Sexual assault cases in military continue to drop
The Canadian military says it is making progress in addressing sexual misconduct, citing a new report that indicates a steady decline in the number of complaints filed with commanders over the last three years.
Brigadier-General Jennie Carignan helped develop Operation HONOUR a sexual conduct guideline that is seen as a world leader in how sexual assault complaints should be handled.
"We really decided to attack this problem in a very transparent way," she said. "You don't have a lot of organizations out there, who publish these statistics. We keep a very, very close record of all the incidents.
However, the military continues to report hundreds of incidents of inappropriate and even criminal behavior to their chain of command each year.
Carignan, who will be promoted to Major General Thursday, said the process for dealing with complaints focuses on victims, and is done through an independent centre.
"That is completely independent from the military, who responds to calls from victims and at that time, we can start to take action right away," she said.
The 2019 Sexual Misconduct Incident Tracking Report, released Tuesday, indicates that commanders received a total of 302 sexual misconduct complaints between April 2018 and March 2019, a decrease of 25 per cent from to 2017-2018 and 33 per cent from 2016-17.
"We have learned a lot starting in 2015 when we started in this process," said Carnignan. "I think we're seeing improvements in the fact that people are more comfortable reporting. People are more comfortable with the processes. People are more comfortable with the rules, and, in the end, what we're after is having more cohesive teams where everybody is comfortable working in."