BELLEVILLE– Local sexual assault agencies are not surprised by how prevalent sexual assault is in the Canadian Armed Forces after Statistics Canada unveiled its survey on the subject earlier this week.
Women make up fifteen percent of the Canadian forces, however Statistics Canada found that a quarter of them have dealt with sexual assault at least once during their time in the forces.
Sandy Watson-Moyles, Executive Director for Three Oaks women’s shelter said that the number of sexual assaults will not change despite a report.
“This is a much bigger problem than the military. This is a societal problem, it’s a local problem, it’s international, it’s a global problem,” she said.
Watson-Moyles concerns were echoed by Elise Hineman, interm executive director for the Sexual Assault Clinic of Quinte and District .
Hineman said that sexual assault happens to anyone regardless of career path, but it is “sad, in this age and in any age.”
Both women say they are pleased by the response from the chief of defence staff to the report. General Jonathan Vance was disappointed by the report’s findings but saw hope for the future. Watson-Moyles said that now that top officials in the armed forces have recognized this problem, she hopes that this will be the start of preventing sexual assault.
“I was very pleased to read the commanding officer say that it will be the perpetrators held accountable if someone comes forward and not the victim, that’s very reassuring,” said Watson-Moyles.
Statistics Canada said in an email that CFB Trenton was one of four bases in Canada that held one on one interviews with armed forces members for the survey. They said that the information was drawn from a variety of perspectives in the armed forces, including career, language and gender.
The UN currently has a campaign called 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence  that the Canadian government is recognizing. Statistics Canada said that the release of the survey did not coincide with the current campaign that began on Nov. 25, which was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.