Male rape victims in Uganda speak out

Originally posted on May 17, 2013

I have written before about rape against men in war-torn African countries. Despite the seriousness of the issue, few human rights organizations pay any attention to male rape survivors. Few countries have support services for them, the cultural attitude towards male survivors is highly negative, and the international opinion is that war-time rape is something only men do to only women.

However, there is an effort to change that perception in Uganda:

There remains no reliable statistics indicating how widespread the crime of rape is in Africa’s conflict areas. A non-government organization providing legal aid to asylum seekers and refugees in Uganda is spearheading a project to reach out to men who have been raped.

Chris Dolan, director of the Refugee Law Project, explained the numbers of men experiencing rape are much higher than anticipated.

“We started talking to a handful of male survivors from one of the settlements and they started to meet up and now they have close to 60 members – all within the space of just three months,” Dolan told DW.

Those 60 men are not the only male survivors. They are simply the ones willing to attend the support group. Many more men do not want to go to the group, likely because of situations like this: Continue reading

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Former detainees who say they were abused at Abu Ghraib want case reopened — Attorneys representing four Iraqis who claimed they were abused at the Abu Ghraib prison argued in a federal appeals court Tuesday that the case, which was dismissed last year, be reopened. The former detainees have claimed that employees of CACI International, a government contractor working at the prison, mistreated them with “electric shocks, sexual violence, forced nudity, broken bones and deprivation of oxygen, food and water.”

It’s Time to End ‘Rape Culture’ Hysteria — The nation’s largest and most influential anti-sexual-violence organization is rejecting the idea that culture — as opposed to the actions of individuals — is responsible for rape.

Moss Point woman gets 20 years for child abuse, torture — A Moss Point woman will serve 20 years in prison for abusing and torturing her three children in what officials have described as one of Jackson County’s worst cases of child abuse. Stacey Williams, 35, pleaded guilty in February to four charges of aggravated domestic violence, along with three charges of felony child abuse. Continue reading

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29 Boys Killed as Boko Haram Attacks Boarding School in Nigeria — Gunmen from Islamist group Boko Haram stormed a boarding school in Nigeria overnight and killed 29 pupils, police and the military said on Tuesday. Many of the victims died as the school was burned to the ground. “Some of the students’ bodies were burned to ashes,” Police Commissioner Sanusi Rufai said of the attack on the Federal Government college of Buni Yadi, a secondary school in Yobe state in the country’s northeast.

Abuse investigation: LA bishop kept altar boy list from police — When Los Angeles police were investigating allegations of child abuse by a Roman Catholic priest in 1988, they asked for a list of altar boys at the last parish where the priest worked. Archbishop Roger Mahony told a subordinate not to give the list, saying he didn’t want the boys to be scarred by the investigation and that he felt the altar boys were too old to be potential victims, according to a February 2013 deposition made public Wednesday.

The Children of Conflict — When Mohammad Qataa, a 14-year-old boy, was brutally murdered in front of his mother last year in Syria, his story went viral. Forced out of school to sell coffee on the streets of Aleppo, he refused to serve armed members of the opposition group, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), for free and jokingly insulted the Prophet Mohammad. He was subsequently tortured and shot three times in public for blasphemy. Continue reading

Syria, child soldiers, and child rape

Originally posted on June 26, 2013

Much of the news in the media concerning Syria focuses on the deteriorating situation. We hear about the Russian involvement, the Syrian military’s power, and the use of chemical weapons. Yet missing from the coverage is the impact this has had on the Syrian people. A recent news report offer a view of that, one that people might not expect:

Syrian troops and rebels are recruiting children to fight in the country’s civil war and some have been tortured by government forces for having links to the opposition, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said in a report on Wednesday.

The report issued after Ban’s special envoy for children and armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui, visited Syria in December said thousands of children have been killed in the violence, “while thousands more have seen family members killed or injured.”

The report also said children are recruited, killed, maimed or raped by government forces and armed groups in Afghanistan, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Yemen, as well as by armed groups in Mali, Colombia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Iraq and the Central African Republic.

According to the report, the majority of the children are boys. In Syria, the torture and rapes are carried out by Syrian officials and military forces: Continue reading

Taliban rapes suicide bombers during training

October 14, 2013

I expected this to get more news, but it appears no one picked it up:

Taliban molestation of boys, once rarely discussed in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is now becoming a more common topic of conversation.

Nematullah, a former would-be suicide bomber, told Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) that young men, including himself, endured sexual abuse by their trainers, according to a September 23 NDS statement.

Militant leader Mullah Ahmad (aka Mullah Akhtar), who trained the young man to carry out a suicide attack on his motorcycle in Adraskan District of Herat Province in September, also sexually abused him, Nematullah said.

Police foiled Nematullah’s attempted attack and informed NDS officials about his plot and the sexual victimisation of boys by the Taliban. Mullahs Nasim and Akhtar drugged several bombers-in-training to the point where they passed out and repeatedly abused them while they were unconscious, Nematullah said.

This is yet another instance of child rape against Afghan boys that the international community has ignored. I previously wrote about the dancing boys, boys forced to dress like women and dance at parties for Afghan warlords who then rape the boys afterwards. Continue reading

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Archie Comics co-CEO accused of gender discrimination by male employees — The embattled co-CEO also mocked the five employees’ claim that she’d used her “gender as a weapon” by yelling, “Penis! Penis! Penis!” during a business meeting. The co-CEO of Archie Comics’ says she couldn’t have discriminated against her underlings – because they’re white men. In papers filed in Westchester Supreme Court, Nancy Silberkleit’s lawyer says a gender discrimination lawsuit filed against her earlier this year by a group of Archie Comics employees should be tossed in part because white guys aren’t members of “a protected class.”

Boy, 13, testifies about alleged rapes by woman, 20 — A defense attorney yesterday tried to discredit the testimony of a 13-year-old boy who claims he was sexually abused by a 20-year-old woman living with him and his family in Haverhill last year. The defendant, Heather Paltinavich, 21, of Haverhill, is accused of two counts of statutory rape. Her trial began Monday in Essex Superior Court with jury selection and opening remarks and testimony began yesterday.

The Boy in the Boardroom: When Sexual Abuse and Manhood Collide — Two buddies who haven’t seen one another in months walk into a sports bar, find a table, and scan the menu. Man #1 was just prescribed a new diet by his doctor. Beer and fried foods are off limits, so the grilled chicken salad jumps off the page. Man #2 has been fighting a fever, and recently started an antibiotic. He can’t wait to get home and crawl into bed. The waitress approaches and asks if they’re ready to order. Crickets. They look at one another.

Campaign to help those suffering from male domestic abuse is launched — A new campaign backed by Hinckley police is hoping to strip the stigma from male domestic abuse. Figures suggest one in six men in Leicestershire experience some kind of abusive behaviour by a partner, an ex or even a relative but few report the problem. The new initiative hopes to encourage more men to come forward rather than suffering in silence. As part of the campaign information posters are being distributed to gyms and sports clubs. Continue reading

The last human rights taboo?

The Guardian published an article titled Male rape: the last human rights taboo. Rich McEachran questions why NGOs pay so little attention to sexual violence against men and boys despite growing concern for the problem:

There is a disconcerting disparity between how various aid organisations and NGOs are dealing, or are failing to deal, with the issue. On a macro-level, organisations may not be aware of what they’re looking for and may not see how male rape fits into the bigger picture. It may come as a surprise that the UN only changed its own definition of rape to cover male victims, in 2011; this followed the publication of an article in The Observer.

NGOs at a micro-level, some of whom are already working with male survivors – the Refugee Law Project for instance – face major obstacles, such as acquiring funding and carrying out field work or accessing survivors in remote areas. The author of the aforementioned article spoke to Chris Dolan, the director of RLP, who claimed that one of the project’s donors refused to provide future funding if 70% of the client base wasn’t female.

Despite the fear of losing funding, the pervasiveness of the problem (academic Lara Stemple writes that male sexual violence has been used as a weapon of war from Chile to Iran, Kuwait to Uganda) means that the humanitarian community needs to challenge perceptions of rape, improve understanding and create awareness.

Yet that may be difficult to do given the gendered focus on sexual violence. As McEachran notes in the article, many NGOs use gendered language to refer to victims of sexual violence. Even in instances in which NGOs acknowledge the existence of abused men and boys, little of their literature mentions those experiences. Continue reading