Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram and top officers within Norway’s armed forces say they’ll be introducing new measures aimed at cracking down on sexual harassment that’s also led to assaults. New and improved systems for handling complaints are due to be in place by August.
Gram and Defense Chief Eirik Kristoffersen took part Tuesday night in a live televised debate on Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), following reports over the weekend of more cases of harassment and at least two rapes of female recruits. Both men claimed once again that they’re taking the complaints seriously, with Kristoffersen telling news bureau NTB that “the situation is a crisis that we will resolve.”
Gram, who succeeded another Center Party defense minister who’d been forced to resign because of sexual misconduct, has also been involved in a harassment scandal within his Center Party. He said he retains confidence in Kristoffersen and that both of them will prioritize efforts to “make serving in the armed forces safe” for both women and men. They will introduce a new central system for filing complaints and that those filing will be kept better informed on ensuing investigations.
Gram called a meeting on Monday with military leaders and those representing active military personnel, to discuss “the challenges” after a majority of women in the military have reported experiencing sexual harassment. “We have had incidents in the military that we don’t want to have,” said Gram, who also faces questions in Parliament.
Army chief Lars Lervik also wrote in the defense department’s Forsvarets Forum on Wednesday that more military police will be on duty around recruits’ barracks, along with “our most experienced leaders” during weekends when partying is most likely to occur.