Perhaps male rape is one of the most hidden atrocities of war. This may be so because it is denied or kept secret, given that both the perpetrator and the victim enter into a form of “conspiracy of silence”. However, when the stories are unveiled, those who have been victims to these crimes risk losing the support of those around them. Male survivors of sexual violence are often disdained and marginalized by their own communities. In patriarchal societies, a man who has been exposed to this type of violence may be seen as a “woman”, and given stereotypical gender-role definitions; no man is allowed to be vulnerable.
MHHRI acknowledges that women are more frequent targets of this horrific crime. But we also wish to present the evidence that sexual violence against men is becoming a more frequent occurrence in the context of war and conflict. Therefore, it must be addressed as a serious human rights violation, and one with devastating mental health consequences.
Male victims of sexual violence: war’s silent sufferers
Allan Ngari, Institute for Security Studies (ISS) 2016
Sexual violence is a tactic of war, used to humiliate, dominate and instill fear. It is also increasingly being used as a tactic of terrorism. While the focus has largely been on women and girls as victims of sexual violence, boys and men are equally at risk. Sexual violence against men and boys takes on a range of heinous acts, including anal and oral rape, genital torture, castration and coercion to rape others. Many of these acts are seen as emasculating, and while many male victims are willing to give accounts of what they witnessed, they are less likely to express what they themselves had experienced in conflict.
Sexual Violence against Men and Boys – a collection of resources
Women´s Refugee Commission (WRC)
The Women’s Refugee Commission’s work with men and boys incorporates feminist principles that prioritize accountability to women and girls. Sexual violence is a risk facing all refugees—women, girls, men, boys, and people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identities and gender expressions like lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, and intersex (LGBTQI) individuals. In humanitarian settings, services sensitive to the unique needs of all sexual violence survivors are limited. Without appropriate treatment, survivors may suffer harmful effects of sexual violence, including physical and psychological trauma.
Identifying and Responding to Urban Refugees’ Risks of Gender-Based Violence Men and Boys, Including Male Survivors
Women´s Refugee Commission (WRC) 2016
Throughout 2015, WRC conducted research in urban settings, the first phase of a multi-year project to improve the humanitarian community’s understanding of and response to GBV risks in urban contexts. Quito, Ecuador; Beirut, Lebanon; Kampala, Uganda; and Delhi, India, were chosen because they are host to diverse refugee populations, have different policy environments for refugees, and are at different stages of humanitarian response. The project looked separately at the GBV risks of different urban refugee subpopulations: women; children and adolescents; LGBTI individuals; persons with disabilities; and male survivors of sexual violence.
“More Than One Million Pains”: Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys on the Central Mediterranean Route to Italy
Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) 2019
Every year since 2014, tens of thousands of refugees and migrants have traveled the central Mediterranean route to Italy, one of the most active and dangerous migration passageways in the world. Along the way, many experience kidnapping, exploitation, extortion, and enslavement. Large numbers die in the desert, are confined to hellish detention centers in Libya, or drown at sea. Litle is known about the men and boys who undertake this journey. These knowledge gaps are of concern, given that an estimated 87.5 percent of refugees and migrants who have entered Italy via the central Mediterranean route since 2016 are men and boys, the latter of whom are largely unaccompanied.
Sexual torture of Palestinian men by Israeli authorities
Daniel J.N. Weishut 2015
In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, arrests and imprisonment of Palestinian men in their early adulthood are common practice. The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) collected thousands of testimonies of Palestinian men allegedly tortured or ill-treated by Israeli authorities.
There are many types of torture, sexual torture being one of them. This study is based on the PCATI database during 2005-2012, which contains 60 cases – 4% of all files in this period – with testimonies of alleged sexual torture or ill-treatment.
“We keep it in our heart” Sexual violence against men and boys in the Syria crisis.
Dr. Sarah Chynoweth, UNHCR 2017
This exploratory study examined sexual violence against men and boys in the Syria crisis and their access to services in Jordan, Lebanon, and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). In addition to a review of the literature and an online survey completed by 33 key informants, in-country data collection was undertaken in October 2016. Key informant interviews with 73 humanitarian personnel from 34 agencies were conducted as well as 21 focus group discussions with 196 refugees (82 pages).
Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Christopher Anderson, American Psychological Association 2015
Common Types of and Prevalence Estimates for Exposure to Traumatic Stressors. Within the U.S. as many as 1 in 4 males will experience some form of sexual abuse during their lifetime. The number of males who are sexually abused during military service is greater than the number of female service members. As many as 50% of the children who are sex trafficked in the US are males.
Male Rape Victims in the Lord’s Resistance Army war and the Conflict in Eastern Congo
Linda Lanyero Omona, International Institute for Social Studies 2014
Sexual violence against men in Uganda is an underreported crime. Sexual violence against men is considered taboo in most cultures. It is an issue not talked about because many consider the rape of men nearly impossible. It is clear that men have also been victims of rape in armed conflicts all over the world. The laws that define rape should be revised to include men and boys as victims of rape.
Working with men and boy survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in forced displacement
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 2012
Refugee men and boys can be subjected to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Survivors have specific health, psychosocial, legal, and safety needs, but often find it hard to discuss their experience and access the support they need. The objectives of this note are to emphasise that programmes on SGBV need to include men and boys and to provide guidance on how to access survivors, facilitate reporting, provide protection and deliver essential medical, legal and social services.
10 Insights from Discussions with Boys and Young Men Traveling to Italy on Sexual Violence
Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) 2015
n October 2018, two researchers traveled to Rome and Sicily. We spoke with 52 young men and boys who had traveled to Italy from across Africa and the Middle East. We also talked to 63 social workers, guardians, doctors, psychologists, and other service providers. This document summarizes the key findings from our trip, especially regarding sexual violence.
SGBV Prevention and Response
The Training Package is designed to help facilitators deliver introductory, interactive training on the prevention of and response to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Facilitators should have field-experience working on SGBV prevention and response, mainstreaming gender equality, working with communities affected by displacement, and be familiar with UNHCR’s approach to addressing SGBV.
MODULE 7 Working with Men and Boy Survivors of SGBV In this training session participants explore the types of SGBV inflicted on men and boys, and the power and gender dynamics behind these forms of violence. Participants identify the challenges that hinder men and boy survivors from reporting and seeking support, emphasizing the taboos and stigma associated with SGBV against males. The session then addresses the specific needs of male survivors and explores the steps UNHCR can take to ensure SGBV response programmes are inclusive of men and boys.
In some refugee groups, more than one in three men are said to have suffered sexual violence
Katie, Nguyen, Thomson Reuters Foundation 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.
Hope in the Shadows: Male Victims of Sexual Assault in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Miya Cain, Harvard Kennedy School. 2014
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.
UNHCR issues guidelines on protection of male rape victims
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 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.
Access to Justice for Male Victims of Sexual Violence; Focus on Refugees in Uganda
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 (.
The rape of men: the darkest secret of war
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.
Male Rape and Human Rights
Lara Stemple, Columbia University 2009
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.
Masculinity and Experiences of Sexual Violence: Case study of Male Congolese Refugees in Kampala Uganda
Jacqueline Mukasa Nassaka ISS 2012.
Uganda, like any other country, receives refugees yearly from its neighbors. Among the issues reported occasionally are incidences related to sexual violence. These issues are generally ignored without taking into consideration the different aspects of sustainable development.