Melbourne: Australian military forces have "highly sexualised behaviour" towards women, a damning enquiry into the treatment of women in military has concluded, but has recommended influx of more fairer sex in olive green to change attitudes.
"Sexual harassment and abuse exists today in the Australian Defence Forces(ADF). It ruins lives. It divides," Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick told reporters, after making public her damning review.
"Sexual harassment and abuse does exist across the Navy, Army and Air Force creating a culture where women cant flourish," the review says and recommends setting up of a dedicated unit in armed forces to deal with sexual misconduct.
Women currently comprise 13.8 per cent in the total strength of 81,000 of the Australian military forces and recently recommendations have been made to give women combat role in the Army as well as the Air Force.
The enquiry was setup following a series of sex scandals in the ADF including an incident in which a male cadet having sex with a female colleague was broadcast via Skype to his classmates.
The review found that one in four women in the military had experienced sexual harassment in the past five years and often complaints were not lodged as service members feared reprisals, ABC News reported.
Broderick said a new Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office (SEMPRO) would be formed to be headed by a senior defence force member and would allow complainants to lodge confidential complaints about abuse and misconduct.
The first-ever such enquiry in the history of Australian Armed Forces has blamed "pockets of poor leadership" for such sexual culture to exist in the military and has said that there was a need for expanding influx of women in the forces, instead of putting impediments on their future.
Broderick recommends more flexible working arrangements and changing recruitment pattern models to attract more women and has asked the service chiefs to commit to new public targets of women in the forces.
The Defence Minister Stephen Smith said that the government has accepted the review report in full and that the chief of defence forces had been tasked to implement it.
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