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Canadian military-college students report widespread sexual misconduct

OTTAWA — A new Statistics Canada report says more than two-thirds of students at the country’s military colleges personally witnessed or experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in the past year.

The findings come six years after the military first promised to root sexual misconduct from the ranks, and three years after chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance took the colleges under his direct command.

Statistics Canada found that 68 per cent of officer cadets had experienced what it described as unwanted sexualized behaviours, the most common of which were sexual jokes or inappropriate talk about sex lives or a student’s appearance.

Twenty-eight per cent of female cadets reported having been sexually assaulted during their time at the two military colleges in Kingston, Ont., and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., including 15 per cent who had been assaulted in the previous 12 months.

The Statistics Canada study, which follows a survey of 512 officer cadets representing about 28 per cent of the overall student body, found the majority of inappropriate actions were perpetrated by fellow students.

The Canadian Armed Forces released an unsigned statement this morning saying sexual misconduct will not be tolerated in the military, and that it is looking at ways to address the problem at the colleges.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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