Discrimination and sexism rife within the Dutch armed forces

Photo: Depositphotos.com
Photo: Depositphotos.com

Gay people, people with a minority background and women are more likely to have negative experiences in the army because they do not meet the standard white male norm, according to a new report from the socio-cultural think tank SCP.

One in eight female soldiers have experienced unwanted sexual attention from colleages within the past year and soldiers with a non-western background often face questions about their loyalty, the SCP said.

Nevertheless, despite the negative experiences, the majority are still happy in their jobs and feel involved with the armed forces in general, the report said.

On Thursday the AD reported that 13 (former) soldiers are filing a complaint with the defence ministry for discrimination and sexist remarks.

One of the complainants, from the Dutch Antilles, was frequently called a ‘monkey’ and told to ‘go back to the monkey rock’. A Moroccan soldier was told to ‘take a jihad flight and not come back’ while a female member of the military was called a ‘tampon’ more than once.

Take a joke

‘Often the feeling is that this is something people just have to be able to take. But these people want to be taken seriously and they want their place of work to be safe.’, the AD quotes lawyer Michael Ruperti as saying.

Ruperti says it will be difficult to make the accusations stand up in court. ‘Sometimes the remarks are on the edge of being discriminatory but more often it’s more insidious. You can’t prosecute someone who says to a woman ‘aren’t we being emotional today’ but she will feel denigrated just the same.’

‘Any form of racism or sexism will not be tolerated, especially in the armed forces where people have to be able to rely on each other,’ a defence spokesperson said.

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