International Responses to Sexual Violence in Conflict: Where Do Men and Boys Fit In?

Beth English
Publication type
Working Paper

Until very recently, most academic researchers and international responders overlooked sexual violence against men and boys in political conflict situations. While a growing body of scholarship now investigates the gendered dynamics of conflict-related sexual violence against men and boys, and awareness of the pervasiveness of its perpetration has spread, male survivors have yet to be mainstreamed into international responses and on-the-ground service provision. A critical debate is whether the normative framework created by the UN Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda can address conflict-related sexual violence in a gender- inclusive, non-binary way while leaving space for the development of tailored, gender-specific services for individual survivors. This broad review of the literature supports the conclusion that the best way to address conflict-related violence against men and boys is not to separate sexual violence against men and boys from the existing agenda, but to work within this tradition to expand research on the gender-specific dynamics of victimization and violence. Doing so would help support the creation of gender-sensitive responses and funding streams that include men and boys in addition to women and girls, and design care and treatment mechanisms that take account of local cultural norms around gender. This paper sets forth that research agenda.

About the Author 

Beth English

Beth English is Executive Director of the Organization of American Historians. She received her PhD from the College of William and Mary, where she was a Glucksman Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor. Her research has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. English’s research and teaching focus on gender, historical and contemporary labor and working class issues, global economy, and the US and Global Souths. She is the author of A Common Thread: Labor, Politics, and Capital Mobility in the Textile Industry (UGA Press 2006), and her recent publications include “Better Work Beyond the Workplace: A Comparative Study of Gender Dynamics in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kenya, Lesotho, and Vietnam” (ILO Discussion Paper, co-authored with Kelly Pike, 2020), Global Women’s Work: Perspectives on Gender and Work in the Global Economy (Routledge, co-edited with Mary E. Frederickson and Olga Sanmiguel- Valderrama, 2018), and “Global Women’s Work: Historical Perspectives on the Textile and Garment Industries” (Journal of International Affairs, 2013). From 2010 to summer 2020, English directed LISD’s Project on Gender in the Global Community where she oversaw the Institute’s initiatives on Women, Peace and Security; Women’s Economic Security; Children and Armed Conflict; and Prevention of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, and co-convened a student fellows group focusing on gender and security.

Children and Armed Conflict,
Gender Frameworks,
Sexuality Identity,
United Nations,
Women, Peace and Security.