Male rape targeted in new guidelines – UNHCR

Published: October 8, 2012

LONDON (AlertNet) – New guidelines have been issued to help a group of men whose suffering is rarely chronicled in conflict reporting – the victims of rape and sexual violence.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said it had for the first time issued advice for its staff and other aid workers on how to identify male victims of sexual violence in areas where there is fighting or displacement.

Rape and other forms of sexual violence have long been used as a weapon of war. While much of the world’s attention has focused on women and girls who account for the majority of such victims, much less is said about men and boys.

"SGBV (sexual and gender-based violence) against men and boys has generally been mentioned as a footnote in reports," Sandesh Sivakumaran, a law professor at Britain’s Nottingham University, was quoted by UNHCR as saying in a statement.

"Rape is not limited to traditional notions, it is not limited to gender … we must recognise rape as torture, rape as rape," said Sivakumaran, one of the many academics, aid workers, women’s rights activists, lawyers and diplomats called to Geneva to discuss the issue.

Although there are no detailed statistics on the number of male victims of sexual and gender-based violence, the phenomenon is increasingly being recognised as a protection concern, UNHCR said.

In a paper published in February 2009, U.S. academic and human rights specialist Lara Stemple noted the sexual abuse of men as a weapon of war or an act of political aggression in a host of countries including in Chile, Croatia, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Iran, Kuwait and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

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