Hidden Victims: Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys in Conflict

Event Date: 
Monday, December 11, 2017
Event Time: 
1:15-2:30 p.m.
Location: 
UN Headquarters, New York (CR 9)

The Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination, in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the UN, the All Survivors Project, the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN, and the Permanent Mission of the UK to the UN, will convene a panel discussion, "Hidden Victims: Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys in Conflict," on Monday, December 11, 2017, beginning at 1:15 p.m., at UN headquarters in New York. This high-level discussion will focus on the intersectional issue of sexual violence against men and boys in situations of conflict and displacement. RSVP for the event is required to Julia Heeb by Friday, December 8, indicating UN badge holder status.

Speakers at this event will include:

  • Ms. Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict
  • H.E. Christian Wenaweser, Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the UN (tbc)
  • H.E. Jonathan Allen, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of the UK to the UN
  • Ms. Charu Lata Hogg, Founder and Director, All Survivors Project, UCLA, School of Law

An accurate assessment of the incidence and scale of sexual violence against men and boys in countries affected by armed conflict is severely lacking. Under-reporting due to a range of factors including serious stigmatization, problematic legal frameworks and norms of gender identity has ensured that the full extent of sexual violence against men and boys remains underestimated. This perception has been reinforced at the international level through UN bodies and other inter-agency committees. Traditional gendered narratives are found in international law, especially in response to sexual violence. International Human Rights Law, including treaties, conference documents, resolutions and declarations routinely confuse the terms women and gender with gender based violence being often used to define violence against women only. Even in the context of international criminal law, where rape is framed in gender-neutral terms, prosecutors and judges remain reluctant to bring charges of male rape, instead framing allegations of rape as torture or ill-treatment. Beyond the legal framework, societal constructs of masculinity and victimhood, alongside homophobia, foster a culture of silence and impunity, forcing many male survivors to not report their victimization out of fear of being publicly identified as a victim of sexual violence. Men and boys are therefore often overlooked as victims or survivors of sexual violence for these and many other many reasons, including the fact that they are not asked; outreach is designed primarily for women and girls; health providers only look for physical trauma; and finally, legal frameworks are discriminatory and sometimes persecutory to male survivors of abuse. Laws criminalizing same-sex sexual conduct indirectly impact male survivors, exposing them to prosecution for their victimization.

As part of a wider project, this panel will address the need for response frameworks that effectively and comprehensively address to the needs of male sexual violence in conflict (SVC) survivors as a basic human rights issue, and will help renew focus on male victims of SVC to ensure that groups are not discriminated against on the basis of gender.