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  • New Report Suggests Myanmar Army Targeted Rohingya Men and Boys for Sexual Violence

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    New York, NY – The Women's Refugee Commission (WRC) today released a groundbreaking report with new data suggesting that the Myanmar Armed Forces targeted Rohingya men and boys for sexual violence as part of its all-out assault on the Rohingya community last year.

    The report, “‘It’s Happening to Our Men as Well’: Sexual Violence Against Rohingya Men and Boys,” is the first of its kind to focus primarily on sexual violence against Rohingya men and boys. It also explores how sexual violence against Rohingya men and boys intersects with violence against Rohingya women and girls. The report is based on research carried out by WRC in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, in July.

    “Among our findings are that men and boys were forced to witness the rapes of Rohingya women and girls by soldiers in Myanmar. This is a form of sexual violence against the observer,” said Dale Buscher, Senior Director for Programs at the WRC. “Men and boys also suffered genital torture and rape in Myanmar.”

    WRC researchers spoke with 109 Rohingya men, women, and adolescent refugees in focus groups and interviewed 45 humanitarian aid workers in Bangladesh. Refugees described how Myanmar soldiers burned, mutilated, and hacked off the genitals of men and boys. The armed forces appear to have directly targeted some groups for sexualized violence, including adolescent boys, detainees, and, notably, the more educated, including community and religious leaders—a common genocidal tactic. Many of the men and boys were subsequently killed or died from their wounds.

    “Some male sexual violence survivors managed to flee and are now living in refugee camps in Bangladesh,” said Buscher. “They are suffering health and psychological repercussions from the attacks. However, health and mental health care services are not meeting the needs of male – or female – sexual violence survivors.”

    Conflict-related sexual violence against Rohingya men and boys intersects with violence against Rohingya women and girls.

    “Men and boys are forced to witness sexual violence perpetrated against female family and community members, which inflicts deep suffering on both female victims and male observers and disrupts familial and social ties,” said Buscher. “Rohingya women told us that men have become more controlling and restrictive as a result of recent campaign of sexual violence against women and girls.”

    The report includes recommendations for health, reproductive health and mental health actors, protection actors, and donors to improve protection mechanisms and strengthen services for at-risk men and boys and male sexual violence survivors in Cox’s Bazar. The report calls for more research on sexual violence against Rohingya men and boys to better understand the nature, scope, and impact of this violence.

    “‘It’s Happening to Our Men as Well’: Sexual Violence Against Rohingya Men and Boys” summary and full report is available at https://wrc.ms/svmb-rohingya