Military won’t change nude bathing policy

Case is “a very difficult question on the practice of field hygiene” says Military attorney

The Local

The Norwegian Armed Forces (Forsvaret) will not make any formal rule changes despite a female soldier’s complaint that she was made to bathe nude alongside 30 male soldiers.

In the autumn of 2011, a commanding officer made then-23-year-old Alice Aspelund bathe naked with 30 men and in front of other male officers during an exercise in the northern town of Bodø.

Aspelund claimed afterwards she felt abused and would not advise other women to join the army because of the incident. “I cried and felt sick, and I had problems looking at the male recruits right in front of my eyes,” she told Avis Nordland at the time.

“I can not recommend that other girls go off to the military when it’s like that,” she added.

The Norwegian Armed Forces initially gave the male officer who ordered the bath a harsh disciplinary warning for his behavior and a fine of 2,500 kroner but cancelled the official reprimand after the officer appealed his judgment.

After two separate internal reviews, the military said on Jan. 12 that it would not make any changes to its bathing policies, meaning that other female soldiers could find themselves in a situation similar to Aspelund’s when Norway’s gender-neutral military conscription begins later this year.

“It was a very difficult question on the practice of field hygiene. There are different practices in different units on whether one must undress and do so in the presence of other soldiers,” military attorney Lars Morten Bjørkhold told broadcaster NRK.

Military HR spokesman Trond Kotte told NRK that military brass took the case very seriously, especially in light of the introduction of universal military service. “The nude bathing case has made us more aware of the need for good conduct,” Kotte said.

The first contingent of female conscripts in the Norwegian Armed Forces will be called into service in July.

This article was originally published on The Local.

It also appeared in the Jan. 22, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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