Join the army, they said. You'll be safe, they said.
The army's goal is to protect, protect civilians, protect their nation. Is it believable that each day, 5 lives in the army itself are injured? Each day, 5 individuals in the Canadian military community, men or women, become victims of sexual assault. Less than one on ten cases is reported to the autorithies. Why is there so many victims and only a few that say something? It is because the reporting process is not right, they might suffer mockery and even lose their job.
When an assault involving military personnel is reported in Department of National Defence territory, it is always the military police that investigate. They have authority over every other department in the army, anywhere in the world. If there is an accusation, it is a military court that will judge the cause. If the assault was made outside of the Department of National Defence territory, the civilian police can take the case and investigate themselves. If that happens, then, the accusations will be taken to an ordinary court.
Also, in cases where there is no doubt a criminal act occurred, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service and it will be their job to make formal accusations. If the accusations are minor, it is the suspect’s boss that will decide if the accusations go further and how they will proceed. For example, unwanted touching over the clothing is considered a lower-level case.
There’s no way for a victim to file a complaint to the military police without informing her superiors. The victim then needs to face her chain of command. The career of everybody in the army depends on his or her chain of command. If they need to see a doctor or to be transferred, it has to go through them. Sometimes, it is a blessing, but sometimes it can also be an obstacle. Some chains of command are very supportive, but it is not always the case.
The process is full of obstacles and it mostly depends on the values of the people around you. If they are against sexual assaults in the army, consider yourself lucky because the hierarchy is influential and not always impartial.
MERCIER, Noémi et Alec CASTONGUAY. «Crimes sexuels, le cancer qui ronge l’armée canadienne», L’actualité 15 May 2015 : 33-48. Print.
Canadian Army. Government of Canada, 2013. Web. April 28th, 2015.
National Defence and the Canadian Armed Force. Government of Canada, 2015. Web. April 28th, 2015.