Spokesman for the British Army Rumour Service website admits racism and sexism are still big problems in the Armed Forces

Sexism and racism remain “significant issues” in the Armed Forces, according to a representative of the website responsible for hosting lewd online discussions.

A spokesman for the British Army Rumour Service (ARRSE) website said the problems stemmed from the recruitment of Forces members from deprived areas.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) last week distanced itself from graphic discussions on the website about how to treat women at training barracks. It said ARRSE was an independent website and was not exclusively used by services personnel.

But in an e-mail to Personnel Today on behalf of the website, someone calling themselves ‘Bad Commanding Officer’ conceded that discrimination was a major problem in the Armed Forces.

“The Army is an organisation that recruits from some of the most deprived areas of our society,” he said. “The young people who come from these backgrounds have often been failed by their parents, the educational system and society. I have no doubt that both sexism and racism remain significant issues, both in deprived areas of the country and in our Armed Forces.”

The Commons defence committee warned in December last year that sexual harassment had reached “alarming levels” in military ranks. And the MoD presented findings to the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) last month as part of a three-year plan to combat the problem.

However, the EOC said that it would not be commenting on the ministry’s progress until June 2008.

Last week, Conservative Party leader David Cameron sacked homeland security spokesman Patrick Mercer after he said that some ethnic minority soldiers used racism as a “cover” for idleness.


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