Sexual and gender based violence against men in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Effects on survivors, their families and the community
Media and service provider reports of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) perpetrated against men in armed conflicts have increased. However, response to these reports has been limited, as existing evidence and programs have primarily focused on prevention and response to women and girl survivors of SGBV. This study aims to contribute to the evidence of SGBV experienced by males by advancing our understanding of the definition and characteristics of male SGBV and the overlap of health, social and economic consequences on the male survivor, his family and community in conflict and post-conflict settings. The qualitative study using purposive sampling was conducted from June-August 2010 in the South Kivu province of Eastern DRC, an area that has experienced over a decade of armed conflict. Semi structured individual interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with adult male survivors of SGBV, the survivors' wife and/or friend, health care and service providers, community members and leaders. This study found that SGBV against men, as for women, is multi-dimensional and has significant negative physical, mental, social and economic consequences for the male survivor and his family. SGBV perpetrated against men and boys is likely common within a conflict-affected region but often goes unreported by survivors and others due to cultural and social factors associated with sexual assaults, including survivor shame, fear of retaliation by perpetrators and stigma by community members. All key stakeholders in our study advocated for improvements and programs in several areas: (1) health care services, including capacity to identify survivors and increased access to clinical care and psychosocial support for male survivors; (2) economic development initiatives, including microfinance programs, for men and their families to assist them to regain their productive role in the family; (3) community awareness and education of SGBV against men to reduce stigma and discrimination and increase acceptance of survivors by family and larger community.
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