Checklist on preventing and addressing conflict-related sexual violence against men and boys [EN/AR]

from All Survivors Project Foundation
Published on 10 Dec 2019


The pervasive nature and appalling consequences of sexual violence against women and girls in situations of armed conflict is well established. Although women and girls are disproportionately affected, the extent to which conflict-related sexual violence impacts men and boys is also increasingly recognised. Rape and other forms of sexual violence involving males perpetrated by state security forces or non-state armed groups (NSAGs) has been documented in at least 30 different states affected by armed conflict in recent years. Men and boys can be vulnerable to opportunistic attacks as well as to targeted sexual violence aimed at punishing, humiliating, terrorising and repressing victims/survivors and their communities. Multiple factors can increase their vulnerability including political affiliation, religion, ethnicity, age, actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, disability and socioeconomic status.

Although sexual violence against men and boys has been documented in many different situations, including during armed attacks, house searches and at checkpoints, available information suggests that the risks are significantly heightened in certain settings. This is particularly so when they are deprived of their liberty or when they are associated with or are members of state security forces or NSAGs. Forced displacement, whether within or across national borders, as well as situations of extreme humanitarian need can also increase male vulnerability to sexual violence by parties to armed conflict, as well as by others including peacekeepers, humanitarian workers, members of organised crime groups (such as human traffickers), smugglers and community members.

Ongoing efforts to protect women and girls from conflict-related sexual violence show that there are no quick fixes.

Rather, prevention requires multi-faceted approaches that address both proximate and root causes, including gender-based discrimination and inequality. To be successful, concerted and co-ordinated efforts by many diverse state and non-state actors are needed. However, national authorities have particular responsibilities to respect and promote the human rights of all individuals within their territory and/or jurisdiction. States must therefore take all feasible steps to protect against and ensure appropriate responses to conflict-related sexual violence, whomever the perpetrator.

All Survivors Project (ASP) has developed this checklist on preventing and addressing sexual violence against men and boys to assist governments and those involved in supporting them (amongst others, national human rights institutions (NHRIs); UN peacekeeping and other field operations; UN agencies, offices, experts, treaty bodies and special procedures; and international and national non-governmental organisations (I/NGOs) to support national efforts to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence against males.

This checklist is intended to complement ongoing vital and urgently needed efforts to better protect women and girls against conflict-related sexual violence, from which attention to others at risk should not distract or detract. Rather, its aim is to support efforts to ensure that men and boys are protected against conflict-related sexual violence in law and practice; that national policies and other measures aimed at eradicating such abuses recognise and respond to the risks and vulnerabilities of all persons; and that all survivors have access to justice including reparations, as well as to quality, survivor-centred medical, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) and other responses without discrimination.

The checklist is based on ASP’s research on conflict-related sexual violence against men and boys, including field research in Afghanistan, Central African Republic (CAR), Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Syria, Sri Lanka and Turkey, as well as reviews of national laws in selected conflict-affected countries and publicly available national action plans and other policy documents.
It also draws on secondary research on conflict-related sexual violence and responses to it in reports, briefings, guidelines, protocols and other publications by UN bodies, mechanisms, agencies and experts, international criminal tribunals, I/NGOs, initiatives such as the UK Government’s Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) and academic sources.

Experts on human rights and armed conflict, the rights of sexual and gender minority (SGM) persons, and international criminal justice were consulted in the drafting of the checklist (see acknowledgements). In addition, a draft version of the checklist was reviewed by and comments received from representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); the Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; the Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict; the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO); United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); and the UN Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict. However, ASP is responsible for the final content of the checklist.