Australia army slams sexist soldiers

2013-06-14 11:26


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Sydney - Australia's army chief on Friday told troops to quit if they could not respect women, warning he would ruthlessly rid the military of misogynist men after a new sex scandal exploded.

Lieutenant-General David Morrison said no stone would be left unturned to weed out those who "exploit and demean" female recruits.

"I will be ruthless in ridding the army of people who cannot live up to its values," he said in a message posted on the Australian Defence Force website and YouTube.

"Those who think that it is okay to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place in this army.

"If that does not suit you, then get out. You may find another employer where your attitude is accepted, but I doubt it.

"The same goes for those who think that toughness is built on humiliating others."

The hardline comments follow Morrison's revelations on Thursday that 17 personnel, including officers, were under investigation after hundreds of "explicit and repugnant" emails and images demeaning women were uncovered.

Almost 100 other recruits were implicated.

‘Skype scandal’

The Australian newspaper on Friday said officers allegedly filmed themselves having sex with women, including colleagues and civilians, then distributed the images to military personnel around the country.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the ring of soldiers at the heart of the scandal called themselves the Jedi Council, swapping footage of their sexual encounters without the women's knowledge.

Morrison said the reports were a "fair description" of what he had been told.

The revelations follow a government report last year detailing more than 1 000 claims of sexual or other abuse in the forces from the 1950s to the present day.

It also depicted a culture in the military of covering up, failing to punish perpetrators and hostility towards victims who complained.

That report was sparked by the so-called Skype scandal in 2011, when footage of a young male recruit having sex with a female classmate was streamed online to cadets in another room without her knowledge.

Morrison said the military was working hard to change, implementing new policies on social media, recruitment and the way in which complaints are handled, and urged soldiers to come forward with any similar incidents.

"If you become aware of any individual degrading another then show moral courage and take a stand against them," he said in the message.

"No-one has ever explained to me how the exploitation and degradation of others enhances capability or honours the traditions of the Australian army."

Read more on:    australia  |  gender equality  |  privacy

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