Violence against Women: Armed Forces

Defence – in the House of Commons on 28th March 2022.

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Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

Of course, we have a zero-tolerance approach to violence against women across Defence, and our actions across education, training and the service justice system reflect that. Women can and do have brilliant careers right across Defence, and the role models of senior women leaders across all three services reflect that.

Photo of Wendy Chamberlain Wendy Chamberlain Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Wales), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Scotland), Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

My constituent had been living in the armed forces base in my constituency with her partner and her children, for whom she was the primary carer. During that time, she experienced continued domestic abuse and when she took the brave step of leaving her partner, she was told by the base that she would be required to leave. As a result, she was made homeless and, concerningly, she has had to leave her two very small children with her partner at the base. Although commitments to end violence in the first place are of course crucial, there will always be circumstances where it takes place. So what support can the Department put in place for those who suffer domestic abuse, and their dependants, while living within the armed forces community?

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

I am very moved to hear about the experiences of the hon. Lady’s constituent, and if she would like to approach me with more details, I would certainly be happy to look at that case again. I reassure her that we have had a countering domestic abuse strategy across Defence since 2018, and I look forward to updating the House in due course about our strategy for tackling rape and serious sexual offences across Defence.

Photo of Andrew Bridgen Andrew Bridgen Conservative, North West Leicestershire

Does the Minister agree that we train all our military personnel to be able to be extremely violent when the situation requires but we also train them to have the self-discipline to control that aggression and that any breach of that discipline, whether perpetrated against male or female victims, needs to be dealt with expeditiously and seriously through military law?

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend, and this is all the more the case given that women occupy every role right across Defence, quite rightly.