Why are memories of sexual assault so often fragmentary and confusing? The answer has big implications for people who’ve been sexually assaulted, for those who investigate and prosecute such crimes, and for everyone else who knows or works with someone who’s been sexually assaulted.
As the civil war in Syria further deteriorates, accounts of systematic human rights abuses continue to emerge, including torture, starvation, and widespread sexual violence against civilians and combatants. More than five million refugees have fled to neighbouring countries in search of safety, yet they continue to face challenges of poverty, discrimination, as well as sexual violence and exploitation. Some attention has been given to women and girls who have suffered sexual violence in Syria and in displacement; however, less is known about male survivors, including ways to meet their needs.
European Journal of Intl Law
Sexual violence is committed against men more frequently than is often thought. It is perpetrated at home, in the community and in prison; by men and by women; during conflict and in time of peace. It has been written that, in some respects, the situation facing male rape victims today is not so different from that which faced female victims, say, two centuries ago.
L. Stemple, Program for the Study of Sexuality, Gender, Health and Human Rights, Columbia University.
For the last few decades, the prevailing approach to sexual violence in international human rights instruments has focused virtually exclusively on the abuse of women and girls. In the meantime, men have been abused and sexually humiliated during situations of armed conflict. Childhood sexual abuse of boys is alarmingly common.
Will Storr, The Guardian., 2011
Sexual violence is one of the most horrific weapons of war, an instrument of terror used against women. Yet huge numbers of men are also victims. In this harrowing report, Will Storr travels to Uganda to meet traumatised survivors, and reveals how male rape is endemic in many of the world’s conflicts. Of all the secrets of war, there is one that is so well kept that it exists mostly as a rumour. It is usually denied by the perpetrator and his victim. Governments, aid agencies and human rights defenders at the UN barely acknowledge its possibility.
Meg McMahon, Legal Aid Board
Sexual violence against men has garnered increasing publicity in recent years but still remains extremely under-researched and under-reported. This paper will examine the challenges facing male victims of sexual violence. The paper will look at the broad international framework, including definitions of sexual violence and international jurisprudence in the area as well as generally looking at how the term sexual or gender based violence has come to be associated with violence against women (webpage).
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). October, 2012
Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) against men and boys has generally been mentioned as a footnote in reports. There are no detailed statistics on the number of male victims of SGBV but, the phenomenon is increasingly being recognized as a protection concern in conflict and forced displacement situations. Despite the prevailing taboo, there had been progress over the last decade in reporting of incidents.
Miya Cain, Harvard Kennedy School.
As a result of ongoing conflict, poverty and instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congolese men and women have been subjected to various forms of sexual violence by warring rebel militia, government forces, and noncombatants. Most humanitarian aid, money, and international attention supports female victims of sexual violence, but male victims are largely left in the shadows. Simplified narratives of gender violence often define men as villains and women as victims. This narrative aligns with traditional conceptions of gender roles; however, the oversimplification often leaves male victims overlooked by policy responses designed to address sexual violence.
Katie, Nguyen, Thomson Reuters Foundation. May, 2014
Sexual violence against men is one of the least told aspects of war. Yet men and boys are victims too of abuse that is frequently more effective at destroying lives and tearing communities apart than guns alone. It can take the form of anal and oral rape, genital torture, castration, gang rape, sexual slavery and the forced rape of others. It is so taboo that few survivors have the courage to tell their story. Besides feeling ashamed and afraid of being ostracised, many victims dare not challenge powerful myths about male rape in their cultures, experts say. A common belief is that a man who is raped becomes a woman.
Tom Hennessey and Felicity Gerry, Halsbury´s Law Exchange.
Sexual violence occurs in times of peace and of war. It takes place within committed relationships and between strangers, between people of any gender and sexuality, and for reasons that can be complex. However, despite common misconceptions, it is widely accepted amongst academics and charities that rape and other forms of sexual offences are usually about dominance and control rather than sexual gratification; a form of physical violence that has the power to fundamentally undermine the victims confidence and self-identity. Because of this, sexual violence is a common feature of war zones. As armies or militias struggle to assert their dominance, civilians within contested areas often find themselves subjected to widespread sexual abuse. The result is fear, humiliation and trauma.