British troops have been banned from paying for prostitutes abroad as part of a crackdown on unacceptable behaviour in the armed forces.
The Ministry of Defence said any personnel found to have bought sex while deployed outside the UK would be thrown out of the military.
However, the rules do not apply to troops paying for prostitutes while on operations in the UK.
Under the new rules, senior personnel are now banned from having sexual relationships with junior ranks in situations where it would be considered an “imbalance of power”, the MoD added.
Leo Docherty, the minister for defence people, said the rules sent “a clear message” that “predatory behaviour” would not be tolerated, adding that “the highest values and standards” were expected of all serving personnel.
The move comes a decade after the death of Agnes Wanjiru, 21, a Kenyan sex worker, allegedly at the hands of a British soldier. Her body was dumped in a hotel’s septic tank.
Paying for prostitutes has long been rife in Kenya, where hundreds of British soldiers are deployed every year for training in hot weather.
Soldiers deployed at a British base in Nanyuki were known to have jumped over fences to pay visits to prostitutes during the night despite a curfew. One officer claimed a chain-link fence had needed replacing with a more substantial barrier because soldiers would pay for and obtain sex through it.
“Money would exchange hands through the gaps in the fence,” said the officer last October.
After a string of scandals involving affairs between senior officers and lower-ranking personnel, the MoD has launched a new strategy aimed at stamping out “poor behaviours”, including a zero-tolerance approach to sexual exploitation.
As part of this, the MoD said it now “prohibits all sexual activity which involves the abuse of power, including buying sex whilst abroad”.
It added: “The policy will ensure that every allegation will be responded to, no matter where the allegation takes place, and introduces a presumption of discharge for anyone found to be engaging in the targeted behaviours, including buying sex whilst deployed outside the UK.”
Anyone convicted of an offence will be thrown out of the military and there will be a “presumption of discharge” from the armed forces for any person who has “behaved in a sexually unacceptable way”.
Asked why it had taken so long for the MoD to tackle troops paying for sex overseas, Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, said: “Life has moved on, it’s a different generation. We want more and more women to be in our forces.”
Earlier this year it was announced that any sexual relationship between an instructor and a trainee would result in the instructor being discharged from the military.
That followed the death in 2019 of Olivia Perks, 21, a cadet at Sandhurst military academy who took her own life after having an affair with an instructor.