Addressing Sexual Violence against Men, Boys, and LGBTIQ+ Persons in Humanitarian Settings: A Field-Friendly Guidance Note by Sector

Manual and Guideline
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A growing body of evidence demonstrates that, in addition to women and girls, perpetrators target some men and boys, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and other (LGBTIQ+) individuals with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and sex characteristics for sexual violence in conflict, flight, and displacement. Men/boy survivors and LGBTIQ+ survivors—like women/girl survivors—have significant medical, mental health, and other needs. Despite increasing awareness of sexual violence against these populations, many humanitarian workers are unclear on how to meet the needs of these diverse survivors.

From 2018 to 2019, the Women’s Refugee Commission’s (WRC) sexual violence project undertook exploratory research in three refugee settings. Despite some service availability across settings, the study found high unmet needs among men, boy, and LGBTIQ+ survivors. These findings aligned with other studies on this issue. Frontline workers require more clarity and support on how to care for these populations. Many staff are confused about their roles and responsibilities, and are often unsure how best to provide services to support men, boy, and LGBTIQ+ survivors. Few have been adequately trained in caring for these survivors, and fewer still have first-hand experience.

The Women’s Refugee Commission developed this Guidance Note in response to these needs. The aim of the Guidance Note is to outline key actions and considerations for service provision per sector to support frontline workers to better address sexual violence against men, boys, and LGBTIQ+ persons. The Guidance Note draws upon and consolidates existing humanitarian guidance, including guidance related to health, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), child protection, and GBV, and contextualizes the existing guidance with learnings from our research to provide additional insights and context for service providers. The Guidance Note is a starting point to complement existing guidance and is based on current knowledge of these issues. It is intended to be a living document, and is not comprehensive or definitive.