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Sexual Violence in military

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Human Factors and Medicine

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Assault, Behavioral Health, Gender Discrimination, Harassment, Military Culture, Military Readiness, Misconduct, Physical Health, Psychological Health, Sexual Violence


Sexual violence is a pervasive problem in many NATO militaries despite numerous initiatives to end it. No doubt the military’s lack of progress stems from the complexity of the issue. Effective strategies and programs to end sexual violence require a deep understanding of these complexities. The impact of sexual violence on victims can be devastating, affecting their psychological and physical health, military career, and success once leaving the military. Further, much evidence suggests that sexual violence affects military readiness. Sexual violence also invites negative media attention and public criticism, which places stress on military organizations and their leaders to bring to account the perpetrators and leaders who have failed to respond appropriately. Due to severe underreporting, data on sexual violence in the military are largely inadequate. Some evidence suggests that data from post-service research is more reliable because service members can speak without career implications.


To review existing legislation, policies, and reporting mechanisms relating to sexual violence in the military across NATO countries; To propose best definitions of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct to facilitate operationalization and measurement; To identify best practices for collecting self-reported prevalence data and attitudinal information on sexual violence; To review measurement tools available across NATO countries; and To develop and pilot test a standard NATO survey instrument of sexual violence (i.e., to develop an instrument available to all NATO members for assessing the prevalence of sexual violence in their militaries).


Determine the current programs, polices, and processes to deal with sexual violence (including definitions); Identify the societal, cultural, and military factors that may contribute to understanding and dealing with sexual violence; Conceptualize the prevalence and attitudes toward unacceptable sexual behaviour; Define and measure self-reported prevalence of sexual violence; and Develop appropriate methodologies for monitoring, measuring, and assessing sexual violence.

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