Congo’s Male Rape Victims Speak Out

As rare as the discussion of male rape is in the West, it is more rare to hear it mentioned elsewhere. The stigmas male victims face here are exacerbated and often quite worse in other parts of the world. Sometimes male victims are threatened with death and even killed. While we may be used to hearing this about female rape victims, we do not often hear it about male victims. They remain shrouded in silence, not just because of the social stigmas or their warranted unwillingness to come forward, but also because few international human rights groups make an effort to acknowledge, let alone address, this issue. In the end, male rape victims in war-torn and conflict-strewn areas of the world go largely ignored.

A recent video highlighted this problem:

In Democratic Republic of Congo’s troubled and lawless east, sexual violence against women is commonplace and often used as a weapon of war. But now, increasingly, male rape victims are coming forward.

There is no way to tell how frequently boys and men are raped on places like the Congo. So few come forward and there are not many resource centers in those areas to begin with, and perhaps very few willing to work with male victims. The social stigmas in those areas are such that even researchers might have difficulty finding out what the rate actually is. A fair guess would be to assume that whatever the general rate of random violence against males is — assault, robbery, torture, murder — probably would apply to the rate of potential sexual violence, especially if male victims are just as unlikely to report the previously mentioned crimes.

This is one of the reasons why it is so important not to frame rape as a women’s issue or pretend that only or overwhelming women are the victims. That kind of misinformation leads to boys and men refusing to come forward not only from undue shame, but also because they simply do not believe that such acts can happen to them or that those acts are not rape.

5 thoughts on “Congo’s Male Rape Victims Speak Out

  1. TS, it’s important to frame rape as a women’s issue for those women who want to control the conversation. Although they define it as a women’s issue, that won’t stop them from presuming to expound on men’s role, even though that would presumably be a men’s issue.

  2. Jim, it takes some twisted logic to make an important and necessary article about male victims of rape somehow about women needing to control. Women are not the rapists.

  3. But women do control the discussion, which is plays a major role in why male rape is rarely mentioned. If male victims only hear that women are victims, they will not view their experiences as rape. Worse yet, they will not come forward because no one is reaching out to them. There are no services trying to help them, no services dedicated to their needs. So yes, there does need to be some mention of removing women’s control over the discussion of this topic.

    As for women being rapists, they certainly can be and often are. It is, however, extremely unlikely that male victims of female rapists would come forward in a country like the DRC. It is also important to note that the rape of men in this particular instance is an extension of terrorism. This has always happened. Even the Romans did this to the soldiers the defeated. The difference is that no one talks about it. So it is quite likely that just as many men and boys have been raped, particularly given that they are the majority of the causalities in that part of the world, but they may be too frightened and ashamed to come forward. Again, women framing rape as something that only happens to women plays a major role in that.

  4. Pingback: G8 announces initiative to tackle sexual violence in conflict | Toy Soldiers

  5. Pingback: Male rape victims in Uganda speak out | Toy Soldiers

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