Could it be the end of recognition of male victims in the society today or will this be the rise of UN-Men? Well, you must be wondering what this writer is on about. I will let you in on the gist. On the 19th of June 2018, the UN women celebrated the third International Day to End Rape and other forms of sexual violence in conflict and to support courageous survivors seeking justice; with the aim of eliminating Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Over the years, UN has given their utmost support and has made significant progress in advancing gender equality, empowering young women and providing measures to eradicate sexual violence against the female gender. Now, we are left to ponder on the question of whether male sexual violence victims are ignored in the society today or whether the society has inadvertently failed to advocate for their rights as much as they do for their female counterparts. This neglect leaves their issues under discussed, under documented and underreported in the society. At the UN level, the fact that the commemoration of conflict-related sexual violence is globally recognised as an international event, it should have served as a medium to highlight some major problems encountered also by the male victims of sexual assault. The concerns raised by this continuous neglect will be discussed further in this article.
WHAT IS SEXUAL VIOLENCE?
Sexual violence against males involves non-consensual sexual contact of any type performed against a man or a boy. These sexual contacts that occur against
men and boys happen in coercive environments and they include:
- Grabbing genitals,
- Penetrative actions (oral, anal).
- Direct body contact such as sexual touching or masturbating)
- Non-contact such as exposure to porn or other sexual activities.
The Victims can sustain injuries from the sexual abuse. The injuries are the following:
- Scratches or abrasions
- Sexually transmitted diseases.
- Genital injuries
- Broken bones
- Muscle injury
It is overwhelming to discover that men are sexually assaulted as women in conflict and peace situations. The devastating fact about this statement is that the issue is often ignored in our society today. This is because most people do not believe that men can be assaulted due to the societal perception of power, stereotypes and masculinity and they forget that Sexual assault can happen to anyone, regardless of their age, sexual orientation and gender identity.
It is important to know that men and boys who have been sexually assaulted or abused also have the same feelings and reactions as other victims of sexual assault. Therefore, their well-beings and thoughts are of paramount importance and their voice should not be ignored but rather listened to in order to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to eradicate this violence.
During our Vox-Pop interviews, many people asked us whether sexual violence against males have any negative impacts on them.
The answer to this is, YES as it affects not only their well-being but also limits total interaction with other people. Below are some of the major impacts of sexual violence against the male gender:
THE IMPACTS OF SEXUAL ASSUALT ON MALE GENDER.
- Anxiety, depression, fear, post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Lack of trust and having a sense of a shortened future
- Inferiority Complex- involves feeling “less of a man” or have less control over your own body.
- Feeling on-edge, being unable to relax, and having difficulty sleeping.
- Sense of blame or shame over not being able to stop the assault or abuse, especially if you experienced an erection or ejaculation.
- Increased sense of isolation and withdrawal from relationships or friendships.
- Tendency to become perpetrators of sexual violence.
- Tendency to become violent in the society.
PERPETRATORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AGAINST THE MALE GENDER.
The general presumption is that males are the only perpetrators of sexual violence however, the sad-truth is that the perpetrators can be of any gender identity, sexual orientation, or age, and they can have any relationship to the victim. In peace situations, the perpetrator could be an aunt, uncle, teacher, coach, stranger, father and so forth. There is no specific gender or category responsible for this, because this unhealthy act can be carried out by anybody with the motive to take advantage of or to destroy other people. One major trait of all perpetrators is the ability to use physical force or psychological and emotional coercion on the victims.
Males who have not been sexually abused in the past should take note of the fact that sexual violence against men and boys can take many forms. They include: rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, enforced nudity, and being forced to perform sexual acts with others. Some of these forms of sexual violence reportedly occurred in conflict situations in different parts of the world.
Studies have shown that sexual violence against males have occurred in Chile, El Salvador, Libya, Sri Lanka, Syria, the United States, and the former Yugoslavia.
DOES BEING ASSAULTED AFFECT SEXUAL ORIENTATION?
Well, this is a topic undergoing an intense discussion. The Fact still remains that most victims will never remain the same after they’ve been sexually assaulted. Some go into the world with the thought to revenge and by so doing, end up becoming rapists, some decide to stay single with so much hatred for women in the case of male victims and vice versa or even commit suicide in order to end the dilemma. According to some schools of thought, sexual assault is not considered related to the victim or perpetrator’s sexual orientation and their sexual orientation cannot be caused entirely by sexual abuse or assault. Most victims question their sexuality after surviving an assault and that’s understandable. This is mostly accurate if the victim experienced an erection or ejaculation during the assault. Males must note that during sexual abuse, physiological responses like an erection are inevitable; indicating that the victim has no control over his body. This means that an erection is not an invitation to unwanted sexual activity, and an ejaculation in the other hand, cannot bring about a presumption of consent.
WHAT TO DO IN TERMS OF SEEKING SUPPORT OR HELP/ SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER SOLUTIONS.
- Speak-up and do not be afraid to speak.
- Report to the nearest police, doctor or psychologist and seek for immediate help.
- Consider therapy or other mental health support.
- In school areas and universities: create a help-desk where assaulted victims or any student who feel they know someone who needs help, can feel free to report and receive support or counseling.
- Incorporate this topic into their courses or school curriculum for better knowledge or understanding on the dangers and impacts this act have on them, more especially if they do not speak-up and receive help.
In conclusion, while some of the silence surrounding the issue of sexual violence against women is continuously being broken, it is quite saddening that effective measures of justice are still not understood or applied in ways that can support or favor the male victims. Therefore, the risk that male victims will remain invisible and left out of responses to sexual violence is still very significant and remains so until more work is done to make their rights and concerns receive a special attention as it is for the female gender in different levels.