Many victims of sexual misconduct within the navy and their supporters are feeling burned-out and discouraged by an absence of significant, systemic change, a House of Commons committee heard right this moment.
Christine Wood, representing the group It’s Just 700 — which led the category motion lawsuit in opposition to the federal authorities over sexual violence within the Armed Forces — spoke forcefully and eloquently earlier than the Commons committee on the Status of Women.
Wood stated victims of sexual misconduct are pissed off as a result of a lot of their key suggestions to enhance look after these courageous sufficient to step ahead have been ignored.
It is disheartening and harmful, Wood stated.
“The burnout and the pain is palpable,” she stated. “And it should not be up to us to keep sending the same message, year after year after year. We have engaged in many meaningful consultations.”
‘They are on the edge’
Wood spoke of a detailed pal who she stated has to put in writing notes to herself reminding her of all the causes she has to not commit suicide.
“The people I know who have fought the hardest for this, for so many years, are burning out and they are at the edge,” she stated.
Wood pointed to the continued absence of an impartial company for reporting sexual violence, the dearth of a nationwide on-line peer assist program for victims and the persistent want for separate in-patient psychiatric care when vital.
“To be clear, we are asking for the same supports we were asking for four years ago,” stated Wood, including that increasingly victims come ahead yearly with no security internet to catch them.
“These individuals are not coming forward to report a simple discrepancy they see in paperwork. They are coming forward with their experiences of terror, debilitating anxiety and shredded self-confidence.”
A ‘nationwide embarrassment’
The committee is wanting into the affect of the continued sexual misconduct scandal on girls serving within the navy and those that have returned to civilian life.
The hearings and a separate, concurrent investigation by the Commons defence committee had been prompted by allegations of inappropriate behaviour by the nation’s prime navy commander, Admiral Art McDonald, and his predecessor Gen. Jonathan Vance.
“At this point, I believe that sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces is a national embarrassment,” stated Wood. “Our collective Canadian conscience has been hit hard by the recent, high-profile allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour by our most senior leaders.”
Wood stated that whereas these two instances, that are beneath investigation by the navy’s National Investigation Service, are necessary, they’ve drawn the public’s consideration away from the broader tragedy.
“It is outrageous that two chiefs of the defence [staff] have faced allegations within weeks of each other, but it is even more outrageous to accept that one thousand and six hundred people report a sexual assault on average every year within the CAF,” stated Wood.
Speaking earlier than the committee, former grasp corporal Stephanie Raymond — whose 2011 assault by a superior non-commissioned officer made nationwide headlines — repeated her name for an impartial reporting company to deal with sexual violence instances within the navy.
She spoke of how, after reporting her attacker — former warrant officer Andre Gagnon — she was supplied with no protect of confidentiality and confronted reprisals inside her unit.
Julie S. Lalonde, a girls’s rights advocate and public educator, gave committee members a considerate however forceful name for cultural change throughout the navy.
She stated she was heckled and harassed in 2014 when she delivered anti-harassment coaching to cadets on the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC), in Kingston, Ont.
“I was, and remain, deeply troubled by the comments cadets made with regards to sexual violence,” she stated. “Victim blaming was rampant and the cadets insisted women who drink too much are asking to be raped.”
The lone exception, stated Lalonde, was a naval cadet who stood as much as the remainder of his classmates and berated them for his or her perspective and remarks.
“Are CAF members uncomfortable with terms like rape culture, toxic masculinity, survivor-centred? Absolutely,” stated Lalonde. “But you cannot change something you won’t even name.”
She stated that since she got here ahead to explain what occurred that day six-and-a-half years in the past at RMC, she has obtained “thousands of threatening emails, social media messages and phone calls” — and she will not communicate in public with out safety.
“I have paid dearly for my courage. So it is disheartening to see those of you with immense power shying away from the hard work that is necessary to make change.”