This report examines the case of Corporal Daniel Conway, a British Army soldier who was recently sentenced to over seven years in prison for raping a colleague. The incident highlights the serious challenges surrounding sexual assault within the military and the urgent need for comprehensive reforms to address these issues. Corporal Conway’s case serves as a distressing reminder of the ongoing problem of sexual assault and misconduct within the British military. The report also highlights the broader testimonies collected by forces medical teams, which reveal a disturbing pattern of misconduct and institutional misogyny. Immediate action is required to create a safer environment for servicewomen and hold perpetrators accountable.
The recent case of Corporal Daniel Conway, a British Army soldier who raped a colleague, highlights the serious challenges faced within the military regarding sexual assault and misconduct. This incident, where Conway sexually abused a fellow soldier after celebrating her promotion, is a stark reminder of the pressing need to address these issues and ensure the safety and well-being of servicewomen.
Corporal Conway attacked the female soldier in his room after a night out, despite her clear refusal of any sexual activity before going to sleep. In a disoriented state, she awoke to find Conway engaging in non-consensual oral sex. Shocked, she ordered him to stop, but fell asleep again. Upon waking up once more, she realised that sexual intercourse had taken place without her consent and immediately confronted Conway. Subsequent WhatsApp messages revealed his initial claims of using a condom, but when accused of rape, he denied any sexual encounter altogether.
The Trial and Sentencing:
Corporal Conway stood trial at the Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire, where he faced charges of rape and assault by penetration. Despite his denials, he was found guilty of both offenses. As a result, he has been dismissed from the Armed Forces and sentenced to over seven years in prison.
Context and Impact:
This distressing incident underscores the pervasive issue of sexual assault within the military. It is a reflection of the broader challenges faced by servicewomen, including the need for comprehensive reforms to tackle misconduct and ensure a safe environment for all personnel.
Corporal Conway’s case is just one example among many instances of sexual assault and abuse within the British military. The testimonies collected by forces medical teams and presented to a parliamentary committee reveal a disturbing pattern of misconduct and institutional misogyny. These accounts demonstrate the urgent need for systemic changes to protect servicewomen and hold perpetrators accountable.
Earlier this year, whistleblower testimonies collected by forces medical teams and presented to a parliamentary committee unveiled a distressing pattern of rape and sexual abuse within the British military. Eight cases, indicative of a wider culture of institutional misogyny, were brought to light by the committee’s chair, Sarah Atherton MP.
One of the most harrowing accounts came from a junior servicewoman who, despite her exceptional performance, was raped by someone on base. Fearing the repercussions, she hesitated to report the crime. When she finally mustered the courage to seek help from a military GP, she was met with callous advice to choose her partners more carefully. It took the intervention of a second doctor to convince her to report the incident to her chain of command.
Shockingly, it appears that senior officers decided to protect the career of the rapist and the prestige of the elite unit he served in, resulting in the victim’s forced relocation and subsequent discharge from the armed forces against her will.
The other cases presented to the committee further underscore the culture of dismissiveness and inaction within the military hierarchy. One servicewoman revealed that she was groped, forcibly kissed, and exposed by a male colleague at a unit Christmas party. Rather than taking her complaint seriously, her chain of command brushed it off as festive misbehaviour.
In another distressing incident, a servicewoman in training was harassed by a male counterpart who invaded her room while she was sleeping. Later, he cornered her against a wall, belittling her commitment to the military. Despite reporting the incident, her claims were deemed too weak, leaving her to suffer from severe psychological distress throughout her training.
These testimonies provided damning evidence of the British military’s failure to address persistent rape and sexual abuse within its ranks, despite previous promises of reform. They also reflect the broader findings of a landmark inquiry into women in the armed forces conducted in 2021, which revealed that two-thirds of serving women had experienced bullying, sexual harassment, and discrimination throughout their careers.
Sarah Atherton MP, the committee’s chair, called for immediate action to address the systemic issue. She argued that military police and prosecutors should no longer handle rape and serious sexual assault cases, advocating for the involvement of ordinary civil police instead. Atherton emphasized the need to improve conviction rates in military courts, which have been consistently lower than in civilian courts, further undermining the confidence of victims.
While Defence Secretary Ben Wallace acknowledged the cultural challenges faced by the military, he maintained that progress was being made. However, the gravity of the situation demands more than gradual change. It necessitates a comprehensive approach that takes complaints seriously, eliminates undue influence, and removes the chain of command from the process.
In a related development, concerns have also been raised about the “toxic culture” of sexual assault at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Salute Her UK, a charity supporting survivors of in-service sexual abuse, reported that nearly 200 women had sought help for sexual abuse suffered during their training at the academy. The charity called on Army chiefs and the Ministry of Defence to confront this alarming issue and implement urgent reforms to ensure the safety and well-being of female cadets.
The persistence of rape and abuse within the British military sends a distressing message.
Dr. Iain Overton, Executive Director of AOAV, commented on the distressing case of Corporal Daniel Conway and the broader issue of sexual assault within the British military. He stated, “The case of Corporal Conway is a stark reminder of the ongoing challenges surrounding sexual assault within the military. It highlights the urgent need for comprehensive reforms to address this pervasive issue and ensure the safety and well-being of servicewomen. The testimonies collected by forces medical teams further underscore the systemic problems of misconduct and institutional misogyny that must be urgently addressed. It is crucial that immediate action is taken to protect servicewomen, hold perpetrators accountable, and create a culture of safety and respect within the armed forces.”
AOAV believes urgent measures are needed to dismantle the culture of institutional misogyny and create an environment where servicewomen can serve without fear of assault or harassment. Failure to act decisively would further undermine the credibility and integrity of the armed forces.
Did you find this story interesting? Please support AOAV's work and donate.