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Last Updated: Monday, 28 November 2005, 12:38 GMT
Military bullying a global problem
Violent initiation ceremonies, like those alleged to have taken place in a unit of the Royal Marines, have caused controversy in armed forces around the world.

UK

In 1997, six sailors from HMS Southampton were jailed after admitting indecently assaulting new recruits. One told the court martial they had done so as they had suffered the same experience.

Image apparently showing soldiers with bags over their heads
A video of alleged abuse at Catterick led to an army probe
An independent report commissioned after the death of four soldiers at Deepcut barracks in Surrey concluded earlier this year that the risk of bullying, self-harm, injury and early drop-out by recruits at armed forces' training centres is "too high".

An Army investigation is also under way into alleged abuse at the Army's School of Infantry in Catterick, North Yorkshire, after the BBC obtained video footage that appeared to show a soldier putting his boot on a recruit's neck.

Earlier this year, the MoD accepted there had to be a complete change of culture in the training of recruits.

US

Video footage of Marines hammering metal badges into the chests of graduates in a parachute school sparked outrage in the 1990s.

The initiation rite - known as blood-winging - led to the US military imposing a zero-tolerance policy on violent initiation ceremonies, although they are still believed to be widespread.

Eleven Marines were disciplined in 1991 over the practice.

RUSSIA

The violent treatment of recruits in the Russian military is so endemic it has been given a name - dedovshchina.

Senior soldiers are alleged to routinely treat juniors as little more than slaves. In the last year, more than 750 servicemen have died off duty, 25% as a result of suicide and 13 directly as a result of bullying.

GERMANY

Following allegations of torture of recruits undergoing basic training at Coesfeld barracks, Westphalia, 18 German soldiers have been charged with mistreating their charges.

An investigation by Germany's Der Spiegel claimed recruits were put through a re-enactment of a hostage taking, being drenched in water, punched and given electric shocks.

BRAZIL

The Brazilian army has launched an investigation after images of soldiers being beaten and tortured by their superiors were shown on television.

The incidents, apparently involving recruits in initiation ceremonies, involved electric shocks, beatings and burning with electric irons.

The army admitted the video was authentic and has suspended the battalion commander while the inquiry takes place.

FRANCE

A law making violent initiation ceremonies a criminal offence was passed in 1998 after a series of scandals involving complaints of sexual and violent abuse at France's military training academies.

SEE ALSO
Brazil army probes torture video
15 Nov 05 |  Americas



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