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New Research Shows Widespread Sexual Violence, Torture Against Refugee and Migrant Men and Boys in Libya and Along the Central Mediterranean Route to Italy

GENEVA, Switzerland – The Women's Refugee Commission (WRC) today released the second in a series of groundbreaking studies looking into sexual violence against men and boys affected by conflict. The report launched today, “‘More Than One Million Pains’: Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys on the Central Mediterranean Route to Italy,” explores one of the most dangerous migration passageways in the world and the nature and characteristics of sexual violence perpetrated against men and boys along this route and when they reach Italy.

Study: Sex torture of migrants _ men and women _ widespread

Migrants trying to reach Europe face routine rape and sexual torture throughout their journey — and especially in Libya — with men facing abuse nearly as routinely as women, according to a studybased on dozens of interviews with aid workers and migrants.... Smugglers torture migrants and film it to extract ransom payments from their families, and to thin the number of people in their unofficial prisons, according to the study. Previous studies have found that nearly all women who cross from North Africa have been raped or sexually abused along the journey; this one found that the danger was likely nearly as prevalent among men. 

“More Than One Million Pains”: Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys on the Central Mediterranean Route to Italy

The Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) conducted a qualitative exploratory studyto examine the nature and characteristics of sexual violence perpetrated against refugee and migrant men and boys traveling the central Mediterranean route to Italy. 

Refugees face routine sexual violence in Libyan detention centres – report

Refugees and  migrants trying to reach Europe from Africa are being subjected to horrific and routine sexual violence in Libyan detention centres, a survey has found.

Sarah Chynoweth, the lead researcher on the report, said: “Profoundly cruel and brutal sexual violence and torture are perpetrated in official detention centers and clandestine prisons, during random stops and checkpoints, and in the context of forced labor and enslavement. The fact that refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean are intercepted and forced back into this violence is untenable.”

Libya has over 670,000 migrants according to UNHCR

Radio clip about WRC's new report on sexual violence against men and boys traveling the Central Mediterranean route to Europe starts at 18:30 minutes.

Male refugees commonly experience sexual violence on the route to Europe

In the hopes of making migration routes safer and improving responsive care, the commission, a rights advocacy group for displaced women and children, took a deeper look(pdf) at the experiences of men and boys who identify as males, as well as gay, transgender, and bisexual men. They found that while sexual violence is one of many reasons thousands of migrants and refugees leave their homes for Europe, it is also something they encounter—sometimes repeatedly—along the route.

More work to do to empower refugees: UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Kelly Clements

In March, the Women’s Refugee Commission published a report about widespread sexual violence, exploitation and torture in Libya. Other agencies, including the German Foreign Office, have confirmed that conditions in some detention centers in Libya resemble "concentration-camp-like conditions." 

Report Chronicles Killings and Sexual Violence in EU-funded Libyan Refugee Detention Centers

The horrific violence, torture and dehumanization faced by the refugees fleeing to Europe in detention centers in Libya has been documented with disturbing details in a recent report. The documentwas released by the Women's Refugee Commission last week. The security personnel are trained and funded in millions by the European Union (EU) to stop the refugees from crossing the Mediterranean.

Guilty of torture and rape by association – Europeʹs dirty secret

Employees of the Women's Refugee Commission interviewed survivors in Italy and, among other sources, spoke with crews of rescue ships. "On their journey through the desert, many refugees are kidnapped by human traffickers and armed groups or taken to official prisons," Sarah Chynoweth, the study's author, explained. She confirmed that violence, including sexual torture, is common in these camps: "It is filmed in order to put pressure on families to send money for their relatives' release. Those who cannot pay are re-sold or murdered."

WORLD Asylum for sale: Male refugees victimized by sexual violence say officials wanted bribes to help

It is not clear how many male refugees worldwide have been victims of sexual violence, though experts say the numbers are certainly high. Stigma and a lack of support often stop men from reporting what they have been through. A recent report by the Women's Refugee Commission listed sexual violence as a reason males leave their home countries to try and reach Europe, and found it was also "commonplace" against boys and men along smuggling routes in North Africa.

New Report Shows Venezuelan Women and Children Seeking Safety in Peru and Ecuador at Heightened Risk of Exploitation

New York, NY – A new report released today by the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), The Time to Act Is Now: Addressing Risks of Exploitation for Venezuelan Women and Children Seeking Refuge, shows that Venezuelan women and children fleeing to Peru and Ecuador face a heightened risk of exploitation, including sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, and other forms of gender-based violence (GBV). In addition to harassment and violence, WRC found that women are having to resort to survival sex in order to provide for themselves and their families.

The Time to Act Is Now: Addressing Risks of Exploitation for Venezuelan Women and Children Seeking Refuge

This blog was cross-posted from Medium.

“You never think it will happen to you.” That’s the simple, devastating message a board member of the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) once delivered on Capitol Hill about becoming a refugee herself. So many refugees would say exactly the same thing. And now it is happening to over 3 million Venezuelans forced to flee a country that was once a safe and prosperous homeland.

African, Syrian migrants in crosshairs of Libya war

A study last month by the Women’s Refugee Commission, a U.S.-based charity, said refugees and migrants trying to reach Italy through Libya were victims of horrific sexual violence.

The abuse was commonplace along routes through North Africa: at border crossings and check points, during random stops by armed groups, and when migrants were kidnapped and held for ransom, said the report, titled “More Than One Million Pains”.

New UN Security Council Resolution on Sexual Violence Omits Critical Needs of Survivors

Today, UN Secretary-General António Guterres presented his new report on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence to the UN Security Council at an open debate on conflict-related sexual violence. 

U.N. Caves to Trump Administration Threat and Cuts ‘Reproductive Health’ From Anti-Rape Resolution

“It’s disappointing that Germany gave into the veto threats,” said Stephanie Johanssen of the Women’s Refugee Commission, who called the resolution a “step backwards.”

She added, “Forcing women and girls who become pregnant as a result of rape [to carry the pregnancy] is despicable.”

Onu, niente aborto per gli stupri di guerra: "Colpa dello stop Usa"

 «È deludente che la Germania abbia ceduto alle minacce di veto», ha commentato Stephanie Johanssen della Women's Refugee Commission, definendo la risoluzione «un passo indietro». 

Ethics and accountability in researching sexual violence against men and boys

Researching sexual violence against men and boys in humanitarian settings requires navigating multiple ethics- and accountability-related tensions.

In January 2018, the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) launched the Sexual Violence Project, a three-year initiative focusing on sexual violence against displaced
men and boys, including gay, bisexual, transgender and others with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity and/or expression (GBT+). The project includes,
among other activities, undertaking applied exploratory research among refugees n Bangladesh, Italy and Kenya. Given the sensitivity of the research topic, the
vulnerability of the research participants and the potential for harm, addressing safety and ethical issues is paramount.

Male rape survivors go uncounted in Rohingya camps

Researchers who study sexual violence in crises say the needs of male survivors have largely been overlooked and neglected by humanitarian programmes in Bangladesh’s refugee camps.

“There’s a striking division between aid workers and the refugees,” said Sarah Chynoweth, a researcher who has studied male survivors of sexual violence in emergencies around the world, including the Rohingya camps. “Many aid workers say we haven’t heard about it, but the refugees are well aware of it.”

A report she authored for the Women’s Refugee Commission, a research organisation that advocates for improvements on gender issues in humanitarian responses, calls for aid groups in Bangladesh to boost services for all survivors of sexual violence – recognising that men and boys need help, in addition to women and girls.