Men cannot be raped : the systematic silencing of male victims of sexual violence in conflict

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Lawrence, Meg
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There is an unwritten myth, an assumption, that men cannot be victims of sexual violence in conflict. Socially ascribed traits of masculinity do not leave space for men to assume the role of the victim - they are strong, indestructible; the perpetrators of this kind of abuse, not the sufferers. But in every conflict that women are raped, men are also victims of sexual violence. In fact, it has been estimated that as many as one in three victims of rape in conflict are men. As long as gender is used to define whether or not an individual can or should fall victim to an attack, those who experience sexual violence in conflict will not have the platform to seek reparations. This thesis uncovers the attitudes towards male victims of sexual violence that make it impossible for them to speak out about the violations they have experienced. Local, national and international perspectives will be drawn upon, uncovering the stigmatisation of male victims, the lack of awareness of their existence, and their ultimate omission from the international treaties and declarations that are supposed to protect them. This thesis argues for a universally accepted definition of gender-based violence that does not only address women, but all victims of sexual violence in conflict. Men are raped in conflict because they are perceived to be the strongest members of a community - their destruction means the destruction of all. Sexual violence against men is undoubtably a crime of gender-based violence deserving of international attention. Widespread and wholly destructive in its nature, it is time to break the silence on this taboo.
Second semester University: Åbo Akademi University
male rape, sexual abuse of men, conflict, masculinity