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Revealed: scale of abuse and sexual harassment of women in UK military

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Revealed: scale of abuse and sexual harassment of women in UK military

Women are suffering serious and long-lasting physical and mental health problems from “widespread” emotional bullying, sexual harassment and physical assault in the UK military, research reveals.

Those most likely to have experienced such treatment were younger personnel, those who have held the rank of officer or had a combat or combat support role, according to findings published in the BMJ Military Health journal.

Of 750 female veterans surveyed, 22.5% said they had been sexually harassed, while 5.1% said they had been sexually assaulted. Emotional bullying was inflicted on 22.7% of those women, while 3.3% said they had been physically assaulted.

Researchers found that sexual harassment in the forces was sparking physical somatisation, where mental distress causes women to suffer physical symptoms such as pain or fatigue.

Sexual assault is leading to alcohol problems, while emotional bullying is triggering anxiety, depression and loneliness, according to the research by the University of Oxford, King’s College London and the charity Combat Stress.

All types of bad treatment left the women at higher risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, and different types of adversity had specific impacts on women’s mental health and wellbeing.

About 16,500 women are serving in the UK military, where they make up approximately 11% of personnel. All roles were opened up to them, including deployment to frontline combat, in 2018.

The researchers believe the findings show there is an urgent need to provide more support to military women.

Sexual harassment was “significantly” linked to a situation where the women found themselves in pain or fatigued owing to the mental distress.

The research also found that sexual assault could result in women having “a greater risk of alcohol difficulties”, while emotional bullying left them with issues such as anxiety, depression, low social support and loneliness.

The study found that women who held a rank as an officer were at greater risk of sexual harassment as well as emotional bullying, but the scientists also state that “even women holding higher power positions may be at risk of victimisation from their own superiors”.

Since women are in the minority in the military “it cannot be ruled out that victimisation of women holding higher ranks may be perpetrated by their own peers as well as those in lower ranks”.

The researchers cautioned that no firm conclusions could be drawn about cause and effect behind their findings as it was an observational study and further research was needed. The study was based around self-reported events, which means it could underestimate or overestimate the true picture of what was experienced.

But they added: “Many women do not report adverse service experiences due to fear of the consequences of doing so and may continue to suffer from increased mental health distress during and after military service.

“It is essential to consider whether current reporting procedures may not provide sufficient confidentiality to encourage women to report adverse experiences and more appropriate disclosing procedures should be considered.”

They said that it might be worth considering whether organisational and leadership changes could be made to better protect military women. “Furthermore, it is essential to consider whether existing support is adequate to support the mental health needs of women who experienced military adversity,” they added.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said: “[We] do not tolerate abuse, bullying, harassment or discrimination.

“We have taken a range of steps to improve the experiences of women in our armed forces, as we continue to do for all serving personnel. This includes launching a 24/7 confidential and independent whole-force bullying, harassment and discrimination helpline with trained advisors to support personnel.

“All allegations are taken very seriously, with unlawful behaviour investigated by the relevant police service as necessary.”

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Ondo Govt reacts to court judgement declaring new LCDAs ‘illegal’

The Ondo State Government says necessary legal action will be taken on the judgement nullifying the creation of the 33 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state.

The government’s reaction is contained in a statement by the Attorney General of Ondo State, Mr Kayode Ajulo SAN, made available to  newsmen on Friday in Akure.

Justice A.O Adebusuoye of the state High Court had in a judgement on Thursday described the creation of the LCDAs as unlawful.

The court said it was illegal for a governor to sign a law outside the State.

The court said that the Local Government Creation Law 2023 signed by the late Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in Ibadan was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

The statement said the government has taken cognizance of Ondo State High Court’s judgement and had requested for a Certified True Copy of it.

Ajulo said after it was studied and analysed, a legal opinion would be presented to the state government.

“Subsequently, all necessary measures, in accordance with our laws, will be taken to safeguard the interests of our citizens, foster peaceful coexistence, and uphold the rule of law.

“The Attorney General remains steadfast in his commitment to prioritizing the well-being and welfare of our citizens, working tirelessly to ensure that justice and the law are served,” the statement said.

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LASTMA impounds 40 vehicles in Oyingbo, ijora, idumota axis

The  Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has impounded another 25 commercial and 15 private vehicles operating illegal garages and causing serious road obstructions around Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota areas of  Lagos.

Mr Taofiq Adebayo, Director, Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA, said this in a statement on Friday in Lagos.

Adebayo said impounding the vehicles at these areas was a decisive move by LASTMA to restore order and ensure the free flow of traffic.

He said the operation was led by LASTMA Head of Enforcement, Mr Kayode Odunuga, under the directives of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr Sola Giwa.

Adebayo that they were specifically directed to target illegal garages that had been a persistent source of congestion and inconvenience for residents and commuters.

He said the impoundment, which began in recent weeks, was part of a broader initiative by the  Lagos State Government to enhance the efficiency of the city’s transportation network.

He quoted Giwa as emphasising that government is committed to maintaining law and order on the roads, ensuring that all traffic regulations are strictly enforced.

“illegal garages have been a significant challenge in our quest to maintain a seamless traffic flow in Lagos.

“These impoundments send a strong message to all offenders that the state will not tolerate activities that disrupt public order and endanger the lives of our citizens.

“Our goal is to create a safe and orderly environment for all road users and this action is a crucial step in that direction,” Giwa said.

He noted that the targeted areas, Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota, are known hotspots for traffic congestion due to unauthorised parking and the establishment of makeshift garages.

He said that these activities not only obstruct the free movement of vehicles but also pose safety risks to pedestrians.

“LASTMA’s intervention aims to clear these bottlenecks and enhance the overall traffic situation in these critical areas.

“Residents and business owners have expressed their support for the government’s action, noting the positive impact it will have on their daily activities.

“LASTMA has also assured the public that the operation will be sustained and extended to other parts of the city where illegal garages and related activities are prevalent,” he quoted Giwa as saying.

He urged all vehicle owners and operators to adhere to the state’s traffic regulations and cooperate with authorities to avoid sanctions.

He reiterated that the government’s primary objective was to create a better and more livable Lagos for everyone.

He also urged motorists to take ownership of the roads and to promptly inform LASTMA of any broken down or abandoned trailers or trucks via the Agency’s hotlines: 0810056586008129928503.

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Emir of Ilorin commiserates with Saraki over mother’s death

Nigeria in very bad shape, only PDP can rebuild it —Saraki

Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, has commiserated with a former Senate President,  Dr Bukola Saraki, over the death of his mother, Mrs Florence Saraki.

This is contained in a condolence message issued by the emir’s Spokesman, Mallam Abdulazeez Arowona, on Wednesday in Ilorin.

Mrs Saraki died on Tuesday at the age of 89.

Sulu-Gambari described the deceased as a wonderful mother, great philanthropist and virtuous wife to  Dr Olusola Saraki, the late Waziri of Ilorin, whose contributions to humanity would forever be remembered.

According to him, the deceased lived a fulfilled life, with numerous accomplishments.

The royal father urged Saraki, a two-term governor of Kwara, and his siblings to be strong in heart over the demise of their beloved mother.

Sulu-Gambari, who is also the Chairman of Kwara Traditional Rulers’ Council, extended his condolences to both the immediate and extended family members of the Saraki dynasty.

“I pray that Almighty Allah grants the family and friends the fortitude to bear the great loss,” he said.

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