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Concerns raised for safety of female infantry

A WOMEN’S organisation revealed concerns over the safety of new infantry recruits yesterday as Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced close combat roles are to be open to women from 2016.

Charity Women Against Rape said that while the British public had been increasingly made aware of cases of sexual violence in society, military offences are still silenced.

The concerns were expressed after Mr Fallon proposed an end to the ban on women joining the frontline of battle in the British infantry and Armoured Corps.

“Despite the growing movements of women victims of military rape in the UK we have seen no change in the military,” spokeswoman Lisa Longstaff told the Star.

The charity has campaigned with former soldier Donna Rayment in her attempt to take the British Army to court after allegedly being sexually assaulted by two of her comrades.

Earlier this year an inquest found that the suicide of Cpl Anne-Marie Ellement in 2011 was linked to bullying by other soldiers.

According to the inquest’s findings Cpl Ellement had become the target of harassment and abuse after reporting being raped by two colleagues in 2009.

Ms Longstaff said a change is needed in the investigation and prosecution of military sexual violence “out of the chain of command.”

“We need more whistleblowers,” she added.

Ministry of Defence figures show that of 56 cases of sexual offences in the Armed Forces between 2001 and 2011 a mere 16 people were convicted.

A 2012 internal investigation at a Wiltshire base reported that 400 women experienced “unwanted sexual attention” whilst on the job.


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