It’s Happening to Our Men as Well: Sexual Violence Against Rohingya Men and Boys

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This report is relevant to humanitarian practitioners because it sheds light on the under-researched area of SGBV perpetrated against men and boys in a complex and protracted emergency setting.

There is little known about sexual violence perpetrated against men in conflict. The type of systematic and widespread rape and sexual violence perpetrated against Rohingya women and girls is well-documented—yet violence against men and boys is not.

This scoping study aimed to ascertain the extent of conflict-related sexual violence against males.

The study revealed six key findings:

  1. In addition to women and girls, Rohingya men and adolescent boys appear to be targeted for conflict-related sexual vioelence in Myanmar. The magnitude of this crisis is unclear, but findings suggest it is common, particularly as a precursor to execution. Forced witnessing of sexual violence against women and girls, genital violence and anal rape were the most common forms of sexual violence against males reported by Rohingya refugees. Violence is primarily perpetrated by the Myanmar Army and sometimes by (non-Rohingya) civilians.
  2. Conflict-related sexual violence against Rohingya men and boys intersects with violence against Rohingya women and girls. Men and boys are forced to witness sexual violence perpetrated against female family and community members. Some respondents indicated a correlation between male experiences of violence and increases in controlling behaviours and intimate partner violence against women.
  3. Some Rohingya men and boys are subjected to sexual abuse and exploitation in Cox’s Bazar, although few survivors have come forward. Adolescent boys and young men, boys with disabilities, persons with diverse SOGIESC and boys/men in informal work are particularly at risk.
  4. Male survivors have significant psychological, physical and social needs.
  5. Services for male and female survivors require urgent strengthening. Few services are available for male surivofs in Cox’s Bazar although some efforts were underway at the time of data collection. No protection measures for Rohingya with diverse SOGIESC were identified in this study.
  6. There are multiple barriers to service availability and accessibility. The failure of humanitarian actors to recognise genital violence and forced witnessing as forms of sexual violence were notable barriers.

The study makes a variety of recommendations, notably that donors should, without compromising targeted support for women and girls, support the piloting and evaluation of programs to comprehensively prevent and respond to sexual violence against men, boys and persons with diverse SOGIESC; fund the development of evidence-based tools and guidance on establishing programs for male survivors including persons with diverse SOGIESC; and support additional survivor cantered research into sexual violence including against people with diverse SOGIESC.

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"One informant shared that kothi (men who have sex with men, or MSM) and hijra rarely stay in the camps for more than a few weeks, fleeing to nearby towns and cities, where some engage in sex work to support themselves."

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There is little known about sexual violence perpetrated against men in conflict. The type of systematic and widespread rape and sexual violence perpetrated against Rohingya women and girls is well-documented—yet violence against men and boys is not.

This scoping study aimed to ascertain the extent of conflict-related sexual violence against males.

The study revealed six key findings:

  1. In addition to women and girls, Rohingya men and adolescent boys appear to be targeted for conflict-related sexual vioelence in Myanmar. The magnitude of this crisis is unclear, but findings suggest it is common, particularly as a precursor to execution. Forced witnessing of sexual violence against women and girls, genital violence and anal rape were the most common forms of sexual violence against males reported by Rohingya refugees. Violence is primarily perpetrated by the Myanmar Army and sometimes by (non-Rohingya) civilians.
  2. Conflict-related sexual violence against Rohingya men and boys intersects with violence against Rohingya women and girls. Men and boys are forced to witness sexual violence perpetrated against female family and community members. Some respondents indicated a correlation between male experiences of violence and increases in controlling behaviours and intimate partner violence against women.
  3. Some Rohingya men and boys are subjected to sexual abuse and exploitation in Cox’s Bazar, although few survivors have come forward. Adolescent boys and young men, boys with disabilities, persons with diverse SOGIESC and boys/men in informal work are particularly at risk.
  4. Male survivors have significant psychological, physical and social needs.
  5. Services for male and female survivors require urgent strengthening. Few services are available for male surivofs in Cox’s Bazar although some efforts were underway at the time of data collection. No protection measures for Rohingya with diverse SOGIESC were identified in this study.
  6. There are multiple barriers to service availability and accessibility. The failure of humanitarian actors to recognise genital violence and forced witnessing as forms of sexual violence were notable barriers.

The study makes a variety of recommendations, notably that donors should, without compromising targeted support for women and girls, support the piloting and evaluation of programs to comprehensively prevent and respond to sexual violence against men, boys and persons with diverse SOGIESC; fund the development of evidence-based tools and guidance on establishing programs for male survivors including persons with diverse SOGIESC; and support additional survivor cantered research into sexual violence including against people with diverse SOGIESC.