Legacies and Lessons: Sexual Violence against Men and Boys in Sri Lanka and Bosnia & Herzegovina

June 22, 2022
Sexual Violence in ConflictAll Survivors Project

Legacies and Lessons: Sexual Violence against Men and Boys in Sri Lanka and Bosnia & Herzegovina

For more information on this project, see the All Survivors Project website here.

From the Executive Summary: Eight years on from the end of armed conflict in Sri Lanka, the country is grappling with the legacy of massive human rights abuses committed during the war. As it does so, sexual violence against men and boys has only recently been recognised as among the violations that took place. However, the issue remains little understood and responses have so far been even less adequate than for other serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by all parties to the conflict.

Sri Lanka is not unique in this regard, but nevertheless represents an important example of how and why sexual violence against men and boys is committed in conflict settings, and the impact it has. It also presents opportunities to break the old pattern of denial that has been typical in many other conflictaffected countries. In particular, commitments by the government of Sri Lanka to establish various judicial and non-judicial transitional justice mechanisms could, if honoured, create an opportunity for developing the specialised structures, strategies and capacities necessary to ensure that sexual violence against men and boys is appropriately addressed as part of broader transitional justice processes. The fact that sexual violence by state security forces in Sri Lanka against both males and females continues today, albeit at reduced levels, creates an added urgency to act.

Therapeutic Activism: Men of Hope Refugee Association Uganda Breaking the Silence over Male Rape in Conflict-related Sexual Violence

This report on Men of Hope’s ground-breaking activities emerges from The Refugee Law Project's ongoing DFID-funded collaborative study with the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Sussex, and was written by Jerker Edström, Chris Dolan and Thea Shahrokh, with Onen David. It explores one central question, namely: ‘What makes it possible for male survivors of conflict-related sexual violence to organise and become activists, challenging discriminatory social and gender norms?’

The study finds that, despite pervasive discrimination, this group of male survivors has been able to develop resilience and mutual support through collective action. Further, the study finds that third-party service providers and non-governmental organisations can play an important support role in reinforcing the resilience and capacity of male survivors to organise collectively.

UNSILENCED: Male Survivors Speak of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Sri Lanka

(International Truth and Justice Project)
More information at: itjpsl.com & stop-torture.com

Dr. Heleen Touquet is a researcher and part-time assistant professor at the faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Leuven, Belgium. From March until July 2018 she was a visiting fellow at the Centre for European Studies at Harvard University. Her research about conflict, reconciliation, mobilisation, conflict-related sexual violence and gender has been published in various peer-reviewed journals.

The Soul Has Died

(Lawyers and Doctors for Human Rights)

Contrary to traditional assumptions, sexual violence in conflict is not restricted to women and girls. Men and boys are also victimised. Indeed, the prevalence of male sexual violence in some conflict settings may be very high. Yet there has been little focus on cases of sexual violence against men and boys. It is not well-recognised or understood, nor has any identification of its prevalence been translated into cohesive and consistent action, response or accountability. The “dearth of systematic data on male victimisation is problematic: it demonstrates the pervasive gendered expectations about women’s and men’s roles [with women as the only victims and men solely as perpetrators] during war time prevent researchers and policymakers alike from robustly analysing questions about wartime sexual violence. [M]ore consistent reporting on the occurrence, forms, patterns and prevalence of male sexual violence could assist international investigators, prosecutors, victims’ and defence counsel, and judges, leading to increased legal recognition of these violations.

"We Keep It in our Heart": Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys in the Syria Crisis


As the civil war in Syria further deteriorated, accounts of systematic human rights abuses continued to emerge, including torture, starvation, and widespread sexual violence against civilians and combatants. More than five million refugees have fled to neighbouring countries in search of safety, yet they continued to face challenges of poverty, discrimination, as well as sexual violence and exploitation. Some attention has been given to women and girls who have suffered sexual violence in Syria and in displacement; however, less is known about male survivors, including ways to meet their needs. This exploratory study examined sexual violence against men and boys in the Syria crisis and their access to services in Jordan, Lebanon, and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). In addition to a review of the literature and an online survey completed by 33 key informants. In-country data collection was undertaken in October 2016.

All Survivors ProjectAll Survivors Project

All Survivors Project (ASP) was founded in December 2016 as an independent research project that was jointly hosted by the Williams Institute and the Health and Human Rights Law Project, UCLA School of Law. In December 2017, ASP registered as an independent charitable foundation in Liechtenstein and with the Charities Commission in England and Wales in 2020. ASP continues to maintain a strong intellectual partnership with UCLA School of Law and conducts its research following UCLA Institutional Review Board approvals.

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