MoD Bullying Settlements Soar: Urgent Call For Action

credit: thetimes

UK (Parliament Politic Magazine) – According to recent data, the average settlement that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has paid out for accusations of bullying, harassment, and discrimination has quadrupled since 2019. According to Labour, ministers should “root out” inappropriate behaviour in the department and the armed forces, which referred to the statistics as “shocking.” Figures made public in response to written parliamentary questions indicate that, in 2022–2023, the MoD paid out an average of £235,564 in compensation settlements in response to complaints of bullying, harassment, or discrimination.

Maria Eagle Take Action About a “Toxic” And “Hostile” Work Environment

The information was obtained by Maria Eagle, the shadow defence minister, many weeks after it became public that 60 senior women at the MoD had lodged complaints about a “toxic” and “hostile” work environment due to claims of sexual harassment and assault. In 2020–21, just a few years prior, the amount was £100,527. There were twelve villages during that time, up from less than five. “The Conservatives are still failing to grasp defence-related issues,” stated Ms Eagle. Girls need our support in defending their freedom to go about in public without worrying about harassment or intimidation. We know what works to stop the harassment of females in public spaces because we spoke with girls in the UK. In England and Wales, police reported 263,463 harassment offences in 2022–2023, up from 262,062 the year before. 

The most recent year saw the highet number of harassment offences ever recorded for this kind of crime, with 2011–12 having the fewest at 48,141.

To convince lawmakers and the government that outing sexual harassment in public should be illegal, we need as many people as possible to sign up for the campaign. These startling disclosures highlight a very alarming pattern inside the MoD. The fact that the average settlement amount and the number of settlement payments have more than quadrupled in the last two years highlights the MoD’s issues with discrimination, harassment, and bullying. 

To eradicate bad behaviour from the MoD and the armed forces, ministers must set an example at the top. In order to provide military people and their families a stronger, independent voice, Labour will pass legislation creating an Armed Forces Commissioner.

The statistics are released amid grave worries regarding the mentality of the MoD and other military forces. The Red Arrows display squad was described in a report earlier this month as having a “hostile, degrading and humiliating” workplace where women were pursued for sex, given drinks, and treated like property. Even if such “casual” behaviors could seem hazy, unclear, or undeserving of criminal prosecution to men in positions of privilege and authority, they might make a difference in someone more vulnerable feeling secure or not. It’s imperative that we all give this menace our full attention. In November, The Guardian revealed that senior civil officials had written to the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Defence, outlining allegations that the women had been “propositioned,” “groped,” and “touched” on many occasions by males employed in the department. In the letter their “day-to-day professional lives are made difficult thanks to behaviors that are tolerated at the MoD but would be considered toxic and inappropriate in public life”.

All claims of inappropriate behaviour are investigated in great detail and are treated with the utmost seriousness. If verified, prompt action will be conducted.“We do not tolerate abuse, bullying, or discrimination of any kind,” a Ministry of Defence spokeswoman stated. “In order to improve the experience for everyone across defence, we have introduced many changes, including improvements to reporting mechanisms, diversity and inclusion training, and increased access to support.” Recognizing street harassment as a type of gender-based violence in its updated national plan to prevent violence against women and girls was a significant move taken by the UK government in 2019. 

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Rape Crisis England & Wales defines sexual harassment as “unwanted sexual behaviour that upsets, threatens, offends, or humiliates someone.” Leering, provocative looks, and staring are all seen as forms of sexual harassment. Verbal abuse and attempted groping are not the start and finish of sexual harassment. Employees who have seen or experienced inappropriate behavior are strongly encouraged to report it. “We take all claims of inappropriate behaviour very seriously and look into them in great detail. If verified, prompt action will be conducted. Labour denounced the numbers and asked the government to “root out” inappropriate conduct. 

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.