Suffering in Silence? The Silencing of Sexual Violence Against Men in War Torn Countries
The suffering induced by sexual violence against men and boys in conflict zones has not yet been the focus of many studies, and can be explained by several reasons. Research on sexual violence during conflicts focuses mainly on girls and women, who make up the great majority of victims of such types of violence. “Rape as a weapon of war” has almost become synonymous with sexual violence against girls and women during conflicts. Since men are generally seen as the perpetrators of such atrocities, it can be difficult and confusing to conceptualize them as victims. This type of sexual violence stands in contrast with common narratives on war and suffering. It seems that speaking about sexual violence against men would somehow undermine policies and programs designed to fight rape of women during wartime by demonstrating that women are not the only victims – and might even also be perpetrators – of sexual violence. Sexual violence against men and boys is a taboo issue, especially in countries where male-on-male rape is confused with homosexuality. As a consequence, victims fear stigmatization, and would rather not speak about it at all. This contribution explores what triggers such a silencing, as well as its consequences at the political, social, and cultural levels.
KeywordsSexual violence Suffering Gender Masculinity Ethnic cleansing Rape Stigmatization
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