SYDNEY – The chief of the Australian Army on Friday told troops to quit if they cannot respect women, warning he will ruthlessly rid the military of misogynist men after a new sex scandal exploded.
Lt. Gen. David Morrison said no stone will be left unturned to weed out those who “exploit and demean” female recruits.
“I will be ruthless in ridding the army of people who cannot live up to its values,” he said in a message posted on the Australian defense force’s website and YouTube.
“Those who think that it is OK to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place in this army.
“If that does not suit you, then get out. You may find another employer where your attitude is accepted, but I doubt it.
“The same goes for those who think that toughness is built on humiliating others.”
The hard-line comments follow Morrison’s revelations Thursday that 17 personnel, including officers, are under investigation after hundreds of “explicit and repugnant” emails and images demeaning women were uncovered. Almost 100 other recruits were implicated.
The Australian newspaper Friday said officers allegedly filmed themselves having sex with women, including colleagues and civilians, then distributed the images to military personnel around the country.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the ring of soldiers at the heart of the scandal called themselves the Jedi Council, swapping footage of their sexual encounters without the women’s knowledge.
The revelations follow a government report last year detailing more than 1,000 claims of sexual or other abuse in the forces from the 1950s to the present day. It also depicted a culture in the military of covering up, failing to punish perpetrators and hostility toward victims who complained.
That report was sparked by the so-called Skype scandal in 2011, when footage of a young male recruit having sex with a female classmate was streamed to cadets in another room without her knowledge.
Morrison said the military is working hard to change, implementing new policies on social media, recruitment and the way in which complaints are handled, and urged soldiers to come forward and report any similar incidents.