SV against Men

The Hidden Prevalence of Male Sexual Assault During War


Carlson, Eric Stener. 2006. "The Hidden Prevalence of Male Sexual Assault During War." The British Journal of Criminology 46 (1): 16-25.

Author: Eric Stener Carlson


The article presents the author's observation on the prevalence of male sexual assault during war. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia investigated sexual assault in the mid-1990s. The male prisoners were sexually assaulted by forced fellatio, masturbation, mutilation of the genitals and insertion of objects into the anus. Sexual torture is widely used to break down the identity of political prisoners. In most cases of sexual assault, the victim is reluctant to admit that he or she was abused. Therefore, it is important to understand the psychodynamics of this trauma. (Abstract from EBSCO)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Men, Health, Trauma, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, SV against Men, Torture, Sexual Torture, Violence Regions: Europe, Balkans Countries: Yugoslavia (former)

Year: 2006

‘Stop Rape Now?’: Masculinity, Responsibility, and Conflict-Related Sexual Violence


Grey, Rosemary, and Laura J. Shepherd. 2013. “‘Stop Rape Now?’: Masculinity, Responsibility, and Conflict-Related Sexual Violence.” Men and Masculinities 16 (1): 115-35. doi:10.1177/1097184X12468101.

Authors: Rosemary Grey, Laura J. Shepherd


Inspired by the themes of violence, masculinity and responsibility, this article investigates the visibility of male victims/survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in war. Despite the passing of UNSCR 1820 in 2008, the formulation of UN ACTION (United Nations Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict), and the appointment of a United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General to lead policy and practice in this issue area, we argue here that male survivors/victims remain a marginal concern, which has, among other consequences, profound implications for the facilities that exist to support male victims/survivors during and after periods of active conflict. In the first section of the article, we provide an overview of the contemporary academic literature on rape in war, not only to act as the foundation for the analytical work that follows but also to illustrate the argument that male survivors/victims of sexualised violence in war are near-invisible in the majority of literature on this topic. Second, we turn our analytical lens to the policy environment charged with addressing sexualised violence in conflict. Through a discourse analysis focussed on the website of UN ACTION (, we demonstrate that this lack of vision in academic work maps directly to a lack of visibility in the policy arena. The third section of the article explores the arrangements in place within extant peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction programmes that aim to facilitate recovery with victims/survivors of sexualised violence in war. We conclude with reflections on the themes of violence, masculinity and responsibility in the context of sexualised violence in war and suggest that in this context all privileged actors have a responsibility to theorise violence with careful attention to gender in order to avoid perpetuating models of masculinity and war-rape that have potentially pernicious effects.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Masculinity/ies, International Organizations, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1820, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Men, Violence

Year: 2013

Bring Me Men: Military Masculinity and the Benign Facade of American Empire, 1898-2001


Belkin, Aaron. 2012. Bring Me Men: Military Masculinity and the Benign Facade of American Empire, 1898-2001. New York: Columbia University Press.

Author: Aaron Belkin


The masculinity of those who serve in the American military would seem to be indisputable, yet it is full of contradictions. To become a warrior, one must renounce those things in life that are perceived to be unmasculine. Yet at the same time, the military has encouraged and even mandated warriors to do exactly the opposite. Explores these contradictions in great detail and shows that their invisibility has been central to the concealment of American empire's darkest secrets. By examining case studies that expose these contradictions, the phenomenon of male-on-male rape at the U.S. Naval Academy, for example, as well as historical and contemporary attitudes toward cleanliness and filth, Belkin utterly upends our understanding of the relationship between warrior masculinity, American empire and the fragile processes sustaining it. (WorldCat)

Topics: Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Rape, SV against Men Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2012

Male/Male Rape and the "Taint" of Homosexuality


Sivakumaran, Sandesh. 2005. “Male/Male Rape and the ‘Taint’ of Homosexuality.” Human Rights Quarterly 27 (4): 1274-1306.

Author: Sandesh Sivakumaran


This article considers the problem of male/male rape. It explores reasons for the silence of the international community on the issue, principal among which is that it involves sexual activity between two men. Society considers any such contact to be indicative of homosexuality, regardless of any element of coercion. Given the prevalence of homophobia in society, this amounts to a ‘taint’ on the part of the victim of the rape. This article explores the notion and extent of such a ‘taint’ by analyzing the role of language and the stigma as felt by survivors, as intended by perpetrators, and as perpetuated by the state. 

Topics: Gender, Men, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Men, Sexuality

Year: 2005

Sexual Violence against Men and Boys


Russell, Wynne. 2007. “Sexual Violence against Men and Boys.” Forced Migration Review 27: 22–23.

Author: Wynne Russell


Russell stresses that male-directed sexual violence—including rape, sexual torture, mutilation of the genitals, sexual humiliation, sexual enslavement, forced incest, and forced rape—has been reported in 25 armed conflicts across the world in the last decade. However, such violence remains largely undocumented. The author notes that until we better understand the scope and consequences of such violence, male survivors will continue to be deprived of care or justice.  Russell also states that systematic collection of data is vital. Organizations operating in the field should strengthen efforts to identify male victims of sexual assault and create reporting categories for violence that affects male sexuality and reproductive capacity, such as the mutilation of the genitals. Mechanisms are needed for expert discussion within and across cultural contexts on how to provide assistance for men and boy survivors. Male victims need to be fully represented in international justice initiatives and included in national laws on sexual violence. 


"Even though male violence is included in international tribunals’ definitions of sexual violence, the domestic laws of many countries do not include male victims in their definitions of sexual violence.” (22)

"Little is known about the psychological consequences of male victims." (22)

"We need to understand the impact of sexual violence against men on post-conflict reintegration of adult or child combatants, or of civilian men forced to rape family or community members.” (22)

“Both adult men and boys are most vulnerable to sexual violence in detention. In some places over 50% of detainees reportedly experience sexualized torture.” (22)

“The main overt purposes of sexualized violence against men and boys appear to be torture, initiation and integration into military/paramilitary forces, punishment of individuals and a strategy of war designed to terrify, demoralize and destroy family and community cohesion.” (22)

“Sexual violence is used as a mechanism by which men are placed or kept in a position subordinate to other men.” (22)

“Organizations in conflict zones need to collect data and create categories for violence that affect male sexuality and reproductive capacity.” (23)

“Mechanisms for assisting men and boy survivors need to be developed.” (23)

“The prosecution by the international Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia of perpetrators of sexual violence against male victims and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s recent extension of the crime of rape to include male victims are positive examples.” (23)

Topics: Gender, Men, Boys, Sexual Violence, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, SV against Men, Torture, Sexual Torture

Year: 2007

Men as Perpetrators and Victims


Peel, Michael, ed. 2004. “Men as Perpetrators and Victims.” In Rape as a Method of Torture, 61–69. London: Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.

Author: Michael Peel



“No society wants to admit to being party to male rape, but this quiescence leaves victims isolated and rape seen as a sexual act rather than one of the exercise of power and the infliction of humiliation.” (61)

“Female soldiers or police officers are very occasionally described as having been present when male detainees were being sexually assaulted, although the extent to which the women were victims or perpetrators is debatable.” (61)

“Sociological studies demonstrate an increase in the incidence of rape in societies where there is social disorganisation, urbanisation, economic inequality, and a sizeable number of men without a regular sexual relationship.” (62)

“Whereas for many women rape is the principal form of torture, for men the rape is generally part of a series of assaults that can leave significant physical signs, so that they might not need to disclose the rape when being interviewed by a doctor in order for a medical report to be produced that will confirm other significant signs of torture.” (65)

“Often the [male] victim appears to be concerned about the gender of the interpreter, but not that of the clinician or therapist, perhaps because their conversation is more directly with the interpreter.”(65)

“Anal penetration by a penis rarely leaves any identifiable physical signs after only a few days.15 In the Medical Foundation study, only one of the 32 men who had been raped had any specific physical signs, and he had been raped many times over several years. When objects are pushed through the anus there is much more likelihood of damage and therefore scarring (although such acts are not, strictly, rape). Of the 25 men who had suffered objects being pushed through their anus, 5 (20%) had significant physical signs.” (66)

“A study done by the Medical Foundation, found that over 70% of men who had been sexually assaulted experienced PTSD symptoms.” (66)

Topics: Gender, Men, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Rape, SV against Men, Torture, Sexual Torture

Year: 2004

Gender Dimensions of Transitional Justice Mechanisms


Turano, Laura C. 2011. “Gender Dimensions of Transitional Justice Mechanisms.” International Law and Politics 43: 1045-1086.

Author: Laura C. Turano

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Justice, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, SV against Men

Year: 2011

Social Constructions of Masculinity and Male Survivors of Wartime Sexual Violence: an Analytical Review


Onyango, Monica Adhiambo, and Karen Hampanda. 2011. “Social Constructions of Masculinity and Male Survivors of Wartime Sexual Violence: An Analytical Review.” International Journal of Sexual Health 23 (4): 237–47. doi:10.1080/19317611.2011.608415.

Authors: Monica Adhiambo Onyango, Karen Hampanda


Male sexual violence has been reported in 25 armed conflicts in recent years. However, communities and organizations are not equipped to deal with male survivors of sexual violence because it undermines the ideals of social constructions of masculinity. Compared with females, male survivors lack access to reproductive health programs and are generally ignored in gender-based violence discourse. Yet, male survivors are known to suffer from numerous physical injuries and psychosocial disorders. In this review, we call for a move beyond the paradigm of female-only sexual violence victims and for programs that address both male and female survivors.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Health, Reproductive Health, Sexual Violence, SV against Men

Year: 2011

Rethinking Gender-Based Violence During War: Is Violence Against Civilian Men a Problem Worth Addressing?


Linos, Natalia. 2009. “Rethinking Gender-Based Violence during War: Is Violence against Civilian Men a Problem Worth Addressing?” Social Science & Medicine 68 (8): 1548–51. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.02.001.

Author: Natalia Linos


Gender-based violence during conflict and post-conflict situations has received increased attention in research and in the work of development agencies. Viewed primarily as a form of violence against women, this commentary questions whether male civilians have also been victims of gender-based violence during conflict, invisible due to stereotypes surrounding masculinity and a culturally permissive approach towards violence perpetrated against men, especially at times of war. The experience of civilian males of violence, including sexual violence, during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and other contemporary wars, suggests that the discourse on gender-based violence and public health research should begin exploring the specific needs of men. Drawing on Nancy Krieger's (Krieger, N. (2003). Genders, sexes, and health: what are the connections—and why does it matter? International Journal of Epidemiology, 32, 652–657) analysis on the differential role of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ on a given exposure-outcome association, this commentary suggests that the impact of gender-based violence on health during conflict may be different for men and women and may require distinct therapeutic approaches. Given that perpetrators are often male, an extra level of stigma is added when heterosexual men are sexually violated, which may lead to underreporting and reduced health-service seeking behavior. Further public health research is needed to guide the work of humanitarian agencies working with survivors of gender-based violence in conflict and post-conflict settings to ensure equal access to appropriate health services for men and women. 

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender-Based Violence, Humanitarian Assistance, International Organizations, Sexual Violence, SV against Men

Year: 2009


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