SEXUAL VIOLENCE : THE MALE PERSPECTIVE
In 2018, in partnership with The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Centre for African Justice, Peace and Human Rights held a Symposium titled ‘Sexual violence: The male perspective.’ This Symposium was organised as our contribution to the recent efforts to include men and boys in the conceptualisation of sexual violence, this symposium aimed at discussing the phenomenon of sexual violence against the male gender and how to subvert stereotypical ideologies for a better acknowledgement of male victim-hood in the law and society. Among the distinguished speakers were Judge Joyce Aluoch, Judge Geoffrey Henderson, Judge Koffi Afante, Representative of Nigerian Ambassador Oji Nyimenuate Ngofa, Ambassador of Uganda Mirjam Blaak, Ambassador of Senegal Dr. Momar Diop, Prof. Dr. Anne-Marie de Brouwer, co-founder and team member of IMPACT: Centre against Human Trafficking and Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Niamh Hayes, an expert advisor on gender who has worked for various UN agencies, Dr. Prisca Zwanikken, a senior specialist in international public health, human resource development, curriculum development, and sexual and reproductive health and rights, Mr. Takeh Sendze, barrister and Ms. Janet H. Anderson, journalist who anchored of the Symposium.
During the event, Judge Afande presented awards to volunteers for the International Peace Campaign to demonstrate the appreciation for assisting in the campaign. Following to that, Prof. Dr. Anne-Marie de Brouwer, presented a testimony of a Rwandan Survivor of Sexual Violence, Faustin Kayihura, who was raped during the genocide by a woman when he was just thirteen years old. His testimony is included in the book “ The Men who killed me” by Anne-Marie de Brouwer, Sandra Ka Hon Chu. He was one of the very few men who spoke openly about being raped and after his testimony, he became an inspirational figure for other men as well.
Judge Joyce Aluoch continued with discussing how sexual violence crimes became incorporated to international criminal law, the relevant jurisprudence of ICC and the issue of impunity. She discussed thoroughly the Bemba case brought before the ICC, and how the Court dealt with the domestic legal framework of gender-based sexual violence in conjunction with international law.
Ambassador Sow presented the legal provisions for sexual violence against the male gender in Ugandan criminal law and the stereotypical ideologies affecting male victims. In its domestic legislation, Uganda has developed zero tolerance against sexual violence without gender
discrimination. However, the vast majority of cases brought before justice have as victims females, mainly because the male victims are afraid or embarrassed to testify. So, the challenges of bringing such a case in justice concern exclusion of men as victims of sexual violence from international and national legislation as well as lack of forensic facilities and cultural prejudice. Following, Ms. Hayes discussed the prosecution of sexual crimes against men at the international criminal tribunals. These types of crimes were prosecuted in ICTY in numbers of cases involving male victims of sexual violence especially in detention camps. However, even though the victims came forward and testified, the crimes were legally characterised as forms of torture or inhumane acts but not as rape or sexual violence. The main issue is that the definition of rape was not clear but instead developed by the judges on every case. Ms. Hayes also discussed the importance of acknowledging these crimes as sexual crimes from the victims perspective as well as from a societal perspective and legal perspective. In the end, Ambassador of Senegal Dr. Momar Diop, focused on the fact that when it comes to gender violence crimes, automatically people assume it refers to women. With the effort of various NGOs like the CFAJ, this norm is changing. After the presentation, the audience had the chance to ask questions and to engage in a fruitful dialogue with the speakers. Ultimately, the Symposium gave the opportunity to the audience to gain in depth knowledge to sexual violence against the male gender via individuals specialised in the issue.