Male victims of sexual violence in the European Union: an analysis of the EU’s actions combating sexual violence
Sexual violence is a serious human rights violation. The main target groups are women and children but considerable amount of men also experience sexual violence. However, boys’ and men’s sexual victimisation ‘remains poorly documented.’ Due to the disproportion in the statistics, men are often neglected as possible victims of sexual violence and thus sexual violence against men is under-researched. However, sexual violence cannot be seen as a ‘gender and sex neutral’ phenomenon. The question arises as to how the gender of the victims and perpetrators should be framed in the policies and laws; in short, whether gender-specific or gender-neutral language is more adequate. The European Union combats sexual violence through various measures such as directives, programmes, and strategies. However, according to the author’s knowledge no analysis has been conducted yet to see whether the EU acknowledges sexual violence against men in its policies and programmes. This working paper aims to address this question. The EU’s legislative competences in the different policy areas are clarified in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. According to the document, there are three levels of competencies: exclusive competences, shared competences, and supporting competences. In order to adequately discuss the EU’s activities regarding combating sexual violence, in Chapter 2.2 the question addresses to what extent the EU has its competence to act in the field of sexual violence. In this way it can be evaluated to what extent the EU uses and stretches its competences. After analysing the question of EU competences, the main research question of the paper is to be answered: To what extent do EU policies acknowledge men and boys as possible victims of sexual violence? In answering this question the research aims to shed some light on the question of whether men and boys face discrimination on the grounds of sex in the context of sexual violence. The research focuses on the internal EU actions.