British Royal Navy opens an investigation into reports of sexual harassment on submarines
A former navy lieutenant named Sophie Brook was interviewed by The Daily Mail for a report that was based on her account of a “continuous campaign of sexual bullying” that included male crew members compiling a “rape list” of female coworkers. Two anonymous whistleblowers who supported Brooks’ account are cited in the article.
In a statement to the newspaper, First Sea Lord Ben Key, the official commander of the navy, stated that he had requested an investigation be conducted by his senior staff and was “very troubled” by the “abhorrent” claims.
The Royal Navy “will not tolerate” sexual assault or harassment, according to Key, and anyone found guilty would “be held accountable” no matter what rank they hold.
Brooks, who is now 30 years old, was slated to command a submarine. But because of the culture on board, she developed suicidal tendencies and engaged in self-harm, and the navy fired her.
The British Royal Navy didn’t allow women to serve in its submarine duty until 2011.
Brooks recalled her nightmare aboard the submarine, where she routinely overheard sexually explicit remarks from her male bosses. They put their private parts in her pocket, according to Brooks.
She discovered her position as number six on a list of female crew members who would be sexually assaulted first in the event of an emergency. A married coworker exposed himself to her, and another crew member went into her bed while she was sleeping and began kissing her.
One woman, who had filed a formal complaint against the display of nude photos of women at a workspace, was “frozen out” and unable to proceed, according to Brook.
Just two years after joining the navy, Brooks started self-harming at the age of 21. Later, her service was terminated.
The Ministry of Defense declined to comment on particular charges, but it acknowledged that more has to be done to address improper conduct. It claimed that reporting procedures for sexual offences are being improved.
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