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Plan to tackle bullying - soldiers and officers to be trained in sexual consent

In an attempt to control inappropriate behaviour towards females in the military, soldiers and officers will now be receiving training in sexual conduct. Recently the defence secretary Ben Wallace met senior generals of the Army board to thrash out the details.

This move comes after a report investigated the mistreatment of women in the military. It also researched the behaviour of staff at Sandhurst Military Academy, and the role that soldiers played in the murder of a Kenyan woman which took place in 2012.

A spokesperson said that Mr Wallace and General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith had had a ‘full and frank discussion.’

Gen Carleton-Smith stated that he wanted training to be mandatory. In the future the Royal Military Police will carry out sexual consent training for all recruits, including those accepted for Sandhurst. This will be to ensure that recruits are ‘under no illusion about what is unacceptable.’

‘The army is not standing still when it comes to tackling culture and conduct problems.’

This meeting was the first of its kind to be called by Mr Wallace in order for concerns about bullying and harassment to be addressed. The meeting also addressed behaviour at Sandhurst Military Academy and the murder in 2012 of Ms Wanjiru.

The investigation of the murder of Ms Wanjiru has been reopened by the Kenyan authorities. She was last seen with a British soldier from a nearby base.

The mother of one (aged 21) was found in a septic tank behind Lions Court Hotel in Nanyuki which is very close to the British Training Unit in Kenya. She had disappeared two months earlier in March 2012.

On the night of her disappearance Ms Wanjiru had been partying with soldiers from the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.

Last month the Sunday Times reported that a British soldier (only named as soldier x) had confessed that he had killed Ms Wanjiru. He said that he had shown his colleagues where he had dumped her body.

Although the crime was reported, it was dismissed by military officials. James Heappey, Armed Forces minister travelled to Nanyuki last week.

He stated that he would ‘leave no stone unturned’ in finding the killer of the young mother. Ms Wanjiru leaves a five-month daughter behind.

In July 2021 the defence committee published a report and survey. Of the 4,000 female service personnel and veterans who partook in the survey, almost 62% said that they had been bullied and suffered harassment and discrimination.

11% (one in nine) said they were victims of sexual harassment during the previous year.

The training will be in two parts, the first part concerning sexual offences and consent, and the second part covering indecent and extreme images, revenge porn and voyeurism.

Mr Wallace and Gen Carleton-Smith issued a joint statement saying that the army is ‘only as good as the leadership displayed by the officers and the people who serve in it.’

The joint statement went on to say that recent events which have come to light require all personnel to play an active part in resolving such issues. Together they will address core and cultural issues.

The meeting between the two men was the first of its kind to be held and follows a report led by Tory MP Sarah Atherton about the treatment of women in the armed forces. Currently there are over 20,000 women who serve in the Armed Forces.

In a newspaper article published in The Times Gen Carleton-Smith was quoted as saying that the aim of the training is to ‘eradicate offending and to educate on the complexities of consent.’

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