SEXUAL consent training should be made mandatory for all armed forces staff to combat inappropriate behaviour towards women, the SNP has said.

The Ministry of Defence announced on November 9 that all new recruits will have to complete mandatory training, but for those already deployed it is only optional.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace recently described the Army as “woefully behind” the public sector on safeguarding women from bullying, harassment and sexual assault.

Wallace met with senior army generals in London on November 8 to discuss what can be done to bring more women into the service and address the growing concerns of the treatment of women within the armed forces.

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However, it is understood that no women were present at the meeting.

The hour-long meeting, featuring senior ministers and two-, three- and four-star generals, was called after a series of allegations of harassment and bullying, and allegations that a Kenyan woman was killed in 2012 by a British soldier whose identity is known to several colleagues.

Immediately afterwards, no specific actions were cited, however, and the post-meeting statement said the army would set out “exciting new plans for its future structure and deployments” later this month.

The National:

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace held a meeting with high-level Army generals earlier this month

The next day, sexual consent training plans were revealed, but the SNP say they do not go far enough to combat the issue.

A parliamentary report concluded this summer that two-thirds of women in the armed forces have experienced bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination during their career, and warned that the military is “failing to protect” female recruits.

The Guardian reported that the briefing cited reports of gang-rape, sex for promotion and trophies or contests to “bag the women” on camp.

Some women said they were bullied for refusing sexual advances, or had witnessed friends being attacked by groups of men but were too afraid to report it.

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And, Ministry of Defence figures have revealed that complaints of rape and sexual assault made by girls under 18 in the military have risen tenfold since 2015 – the equivalent of one report for every 40 girls.

SNP’s Armed Forces and Veterans spokesperson Carol Monaghan MP said: “The Defence Secretary’s announcement that sexual consent training will be introduced is long overdue, but still doesn’t go far enough.

“This training will only be mandatory for new recruits and will be optional for those already deployed.

“This type of training must be made mandatory for every individual within the armed forces – whether they’re a recruit or a commanding officer.”

The National:

Monaghan (pictured above) added that Wallace “can’t stop there” and called for “drastic action” to protect women in the armed forces.

She said: “He must also deliver a much wider package of measures, including implementing both the MoD’s Service Justice System review and the Wigston review recommendations, and legislate for rape and sexual assault cases to be trialled in a civil court instead of an all-male military court.

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“There is no point in the UK government holding their hands up and saying they are ashamed of their record on issues such as rape conviction rates if they aren’t going to take meaningful action. That helps nobody.

“Meeting with army generals is a step in the right direction, but the fact that no females were present only highlights the fact that women aren’t being treated with dignity and respect.

“It’s time for Ben Wallace and the UK government to heed the warning calls and finally deliver drastic action to root out this horror once and for all.”

An MOD spokesperson said: "We are committed to improving the experience for women in the Armed Forces in every area of their lives and do not tolerate abuse, bullying, harassment or discrimination.

“The Defence Secretary stepped in to ensure women in the Armed Forces could submit evidence on their experiences to Parliament for the first time earlier this year, and a number of steps have been taken to improve the experience that women have in the Army on the back of the Wigston report and HCDC inquiry.

“Military service remains a fantastic career opportunity for men and women alike."