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Rape of men and boys in Central African Republic ‘ignored’ crime

Rape of men and boys by armed groups, which is an emerging pattern of sexual violence in Central African Republic (CAR) is under-reported and largely ignored, researchers said on Monday.

“An international research group, All Survivors Project, was one of the first to document sex crimes against males in the war-torn country, where respondents tend to focus on female survivors,” experts said.

In a report, the group identified dozens of cases of men and boys being raped during armed attacks when they were captive, or because they refused to join armed groups.

Findings point to a discernible pattern of male sexual victimisation that warrants urgent attention, it said.

CAR has been driven by sectarian conflict since Muslim-majority Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in 2013, triggering a backlash by mostly Christian anti-balaka militias.

“Fighters have used sexual violence against men and boys as a tool to humiliate, emasculate, and terrorise perceived enemies.

“Our research only gives a glimpse into what is happening,” said the group’s director, Charu Hogg.

Numbers are hard to come by, but one survey found that 14 per cent of gender-based violence victims in the country were male in 2016, according to humanitarian organisations.

“That figure is likely low, since shame and stigma prevent men from speaking up, and aid workers often do not seek out male victims. For the same reasons, male survivors rarely receive medical care or psychological support.

“We are looking at a situation where no one is asking men if they were abused,” she said.

Human Rights Watch has documented hundreds of cases of women and girls being raped in CAR, but researcher Lewis Mudge said he had encountered only a handful of male victims.

“More research would be needed to show whether rape of men and boys had been systemic, but it was possible.

“In many ways we don’t tend to think of sexual assault as being something that can affect males, he told the media.

“I hope that this report gets people to start thinking about that,’’ he said.

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