Survey on sexual misconduct confirms that CAF has much more work to do
On May 22, 2019, Statistics Canada released the results of its second Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).
The survey, which was conducted from September 2018 to November 2018, asked members about their experiences and perceptions of sexual misconduct within the CAF in the 12 months preceding the survey. It also asked their opinions on the CAF’s efforts to address sexual misconduct. More than 36,000 responses were collected from Regular Force and Primary Reserve CAF members, representing 44% of the CAF population.
The survey results confirm the continued presence of sexual misconduct within the CAF, and indicate that the CAF has made limited progress in eliminating it since the first survey was conducted in 2016.
At a media conference, Lieutenant General Paul Wynnyk, Vice Chief of Defence Staff, noted that the CAF has made some headway in certain areas, and that efforts under Operation HONOUR have had a modest positive effect on some workplace behaviours. However, he emphasized that the survey confirms the CAF has much more work to do, particularly with respect to changing the attitudes and behaviours that contribute to sexual misconduct.
The CAF has indicated that it will be studying the survey results in depth, and has committed to using the results to focus its efforts and improve support for personnel.
Summary of Results
Rates of sexual assault (sexual attack, unwanted sexual touching, or sexual activity where unable to consent) in the military workplace or involving military members in the Regular Force and Primary Reserves are not statistically different from 2016.
• 1.6% of all Regular Force members and 2.2% of Primary Reservists indicated that they had been sexually assaulted in the context of the military workplace during the previous 12 months.
• Unwanted sexual touching was the most common form of sexual assault (88% of Regular Force incidents; 86% of Primary Reserve incidents).
• As was the case in 2016, the prevalence of sexual assault among women in the Canadian Armed Forces is higher than that among men (4.3% Regular Force women compared with 1.1% men; 7.0% of Primary Reserve women compared with 1.2% of men.)
Sexualized and Discriminatory Behaviour
Fewer members witnessed or experienced sexualized and discriminatory behaviour in the 12 months prior to the survey.
• 70% of Regular Force members and 71% of Primary Reserve members saw, heard or experienced sexualized or discriminatory behaviour in the military workplace, compared with 80% Regular Force and 82% Primary Reserve in 2016.
• As was the case in 2016, the most common behaviours witnessed or experienced were sexual jokes (65% for Regular Force members and also for Primary Reservists).
Perception of Operation HONOUR
Awareness of Operation HONOUR is extremely high among Regular Force and Primary Reserve members, and most are optimistic about Operation HONOUR’s effectiveness:
• 94% of Regular Force members and 91% of Reservists continue to have very high awareness of Operation HONOUR.
• Almost half of both Regular Force and Primary Reserve members (45% in each case) felt that Operation HONOUR has been very or extremely effective.
• Approximately half of Regular Force members (49%) and Primary Reservists (51%) feel that Operation HONOUR will be very or extremely effective moving forward. This represents a significant increase since 2016 when results for the same question were 32% Regular Force and 29% Primary Reserve.
Most members have a positive view of CAF responses to sexual misconduct:
• A large majority of members felt that complaints about inappropriate sexual behaviour are (or would be) taken seriously in their current unit (94% Regular Force; Primary Reserve 83%); that inappropriate sexual behaviour is not tolerated in their unit (94% Regular Force; 83% Primary Reserve), and that the CAF currently works hard to create a workplace that prevents inappropriate sexual behaviour (93% for both Regular Force and Primary Reserve).
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