“It has happened to me”: the untold and unheard stories of male rape

“Everybody has heard the women’s stories. But nobody has heard the men’s.”

No one talks of male rape – yet it happens – as an instrument of war, as well as outside war. Yet this systemical silence does nothing to resolve the problem – only to perpetrate the social stigma and the physical and mental pain.

Especially in the patriarchal societies found in many developing countries, gender roles are so strictly defined that

“…both perpetrator and victim enter a conspiracy of silence and why male survivors often find, once their story is discovered, that they lose the support and comfort of those around them.”

What is terrible is that research on male rape is so rare that it is impossible to say even with how common male rape is, and there has been no research of the psychological or social consequences for the victims, or of the motives of the perpetrators.  The article cites one survey, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2010, that found that “22% of men and 30% of women in Eastern Congo reported conflict-related sexual violence”. One of the very few researchers dealing with the problem, Lara Stemple of the University of California’s Health and Human Rights Law Project, has found that, for example, 21% of Sri Lankan males who were seen at a London torturetreatment centre reported sexual abuse while in detention; in El Salvador, 76% of male political prisoners surveyed in the 1980s described at least one incidence of sexual torture; and in a study of 6,000 concentration-camp inmates in Sarajevo, 80% of men reported having been raped.  A documentary entitled Gender Against Men was produced in 2010 by Makerere University’s Refugee Law Project (RLP) in Uganda; when it was screened, attempts were made to stop it by … international aid agencies.

Click here to read the article in the Guardian .

One commentator under the article said:

“I don’t know what’s more shocking – the prevalence of rape and sexual violence, or the fact that so many male victims are ostracised by their own families and communities.”

To me, what is just as shocking, is the unbelievable “zero-sum game” mentality of those among the individuals working organisations that deal with sexual violence who restrict the definition of rape to female victims only.


Categories: The Idle Ethnographer

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