Sexual Violence against Men and Boys

Sexual violence is a risk facing all refugees—women, girls, men, boys, and people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identities and gender expressions like lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, and intersex (LGBTQI) individuals. In humanitarian settings, services sensitive to the unique needs of all sexual violence survivors are limited. Without appropriate treatment, survivors may suffer harmful effects of sexual violence, including physical and psychological trauma. The Women’s Refugee Commission’s work with men and boys incorporates feminist principles that prioritize accountability to women and girls.

Feminist Approach

WRC’s work on sexual violence against men and boys strives to prioritize accountability to women and girls. We do this by:

  • exploring how sexual violence against men and boys impacts the lives of women and girls;
  • exploring how sexual violence against men and boys intersects with violence against women and girls;
  • advocating for services for and attention to survivors of all genders;
  • dispelling the myth that services and treatment are available for sexual violence survivors who identify as women and girls, but not for men and boys—services and treatment are typically limited for all survivors of all genders; and
  • including experts on violence against women and girls on our Global Advisory Committee.

Sexual Violence Project

In 2018, WRC launched its Sexual Violence Project, a three-year initiative exploring the effects of sexual violence against people who have identified as male or were designated as male at birth, including cisgender heterosexual men and boys, gay and bisexual men, and transgender women and transgender men. The impact of sexual violence against men and boys on women and girls is being examined. The project involves research in three refugee settings: the Rohingya refugee community in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh; refugees and migrants traveling the Central Mediterranean route through Libya to Italy; and refugees in Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya. We are also piloting community-based projects to facilitate service uptake, coordinating an inter-agency working group, and developing field-friendly tools and guidance.

Read more about our ethical approach to undertaking research on sexual violence against men and boys in humanitarian settings.


Research

WRC has conducted qualitative, exploratory studies to better understand the nature, characteristics, and impacts of sexual violence against displaced men and boys and to help humanitarian agencies improve protection mechanisms and strengthen services for survivors. Intersections with violence against women and girls were also explored.

It’s Happening to Our Men as Well: Sexual Violence against Rohingya Men and BoysIt's Happening to Men As Well Cover Image

In July 2018, WRC traveled to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to explore sexual violence perpetrated against Rohingya men and boys in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

“More Than One Million Pains”: Sexual Violence against Men and Boys on the Central Mediterranean Route to ItalyMore Than One Million Pains Cover ImageIn October 2018, WRC undertook fieldwork in Rome and Sicily to explore sexual violence perpetrated against refugee and migrant men and boys traveling the central Mediterranean route to Italy.

“We Have a Broken Heart”: Sexual Violence against Refugees in Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya. The Experiences of Congolese, Somali, and South Sudanese Men, Boys, and Trans WomenWe Have a Broken Heart Cover Image

In April and May 2019, WRC traveled to Kenya to explore sexual violence perpetrated against Congolese, Somali, and South Sudanese refugee men and boys, including those with diverse sexual orientation, gender identities, and gender expressions, and trans women in their home countries, during flight, and in Nairobi and Mombasa.

A Social Ecological Approach to Understanding Service Utilization Barriers among Male Survivors of Sexual Violence in Three Refugee Settings: A Qualitative Exploratory Study

This article appeared in Conflict and Health.

Explore More of Our Work on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence