The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) established in May 1993 investigated war crimes that took place during the conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990’s. The ICTY was the first international war crimes tribunal to examine cases involving charges of sexual violence. Sexual violence against men took place primarily in places of detention and involved forced nudity, penile mutilation, castration, electric shocks, forced sexual intercourse between men and prisoners forced to bite another prisoner’s genitals. The ICTY was ground-breaking and precedent-setting for the first-ever trial for sexual violence against men (Dusko Tadic) and the qualification of rape as a form of torture (Mucic et al).
This report is the first in the planned series of reports to be published by the All Survivors Project on sexual violence against men and boys in different situations of armed conflict. Eight years on from the end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka, and more than two decades since fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) ended, conflict-related sexual violence against men and boys remains one of the least documented and most inadequately addressed of all the human rights abuses that took place during these wars.
UN & National Reports
Compilation of documentation issued by the United Nations and national bodies on sexual violence against men and boys in Former Yugoslavia.
The panel also discussed local and international efforts to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence. How can international and local communities hold perpetrators accountable? What structures are in place to help support victims of sexual violence across the world? And, if gender norms which trigger sexual violence against women in conflict also apply to men, why then do international frameworks on sexual violence only seem to apply to women?
All Survivors Project’s submission to the UN Human Rights Committee 119th Session, 6-29 March 2017 on Bosnia and Herzegovina.
While conflict-related sexual violence affects men and women, male survivors are often overlooked or marginalised. The case of BosniaHerzegovina (BiH) is a poignant example. Twenty-two years after the Bosnian war ended, little attention has been given to the men who suffered diverse forms of sexual violence during the conflict. The present article contributes to addressing this gap. Based on semi-structured interviews with 10 men who endured the horrors of the Čelopek camp in north-east BiH, it focuses on the lives of these men today. Exploring the men’s silences and the intersection of their trauma with ongoing everyday problems, it goes beyond the commonly made argument that sexual violence against men constitutes an attack on masculinity. Fundamentally, it examines how masculinity norms and expectations have shaped the men’s stories, coping strategies, and current needs. This use of a masculinity lens highlights important gaps within transitional justice, which to date has narrowly focused on violent and militarised forms of masculinity. The article thus calls for transitional justice processes to give more attention to masculinities affected by violence.
In the research project on sexual abuse of men during the war in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, detailed information from 60 victims of such crimes was gathered. The aim of the research was to define key attributes of sexual abuse of men in war as well as consequences it had on the victims. A method of structured interview was used. Also, the statement of each victim was recorded. Victims were exposed to physical torture of their genitals, psycho-sexual torture and physical abuse. The most common symptoms of traumatic reactions were sleep disturbances, concentration difficulties, night-mares and flashbacks, feelings of hopelessness, and different physical stress symptoms such as constant headaches, profuse sweating, and tachycardia. In addition to rape and different methods of sexual abuse, most of the victims were heavily beaten. The conclusion is made that the number of sexually abused men during the war must have been much higher than reported.
Sexual torture constitutes any act of sexual violence which qualifies as torture. Public awareness of the widespread use of sexual torture as a weapon of war greatly increased after the war in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. Sexual torture has serious mental, physical and sexual health consequences. Attention to date has focused more on the sexual torture of women than of men, partly due to gender stereotypes. This paper describes the circumstances in which sexual torture occurs, its causes and consequences, and the development of international law addressing it. It presents data from a study in 2000 in Croatia, where the number of men who were sexually tortured appears to have been substantial. Based on in-depth interviews with 16 health professionals and data from the medical records of three centres providing care to refugees and victims of torture, the study found evidence of rape and other forced sexual acts, full or partial castration, genital beatings and electroshock. Few men admit being sexually tortured or seek help, and professionals may fail to recognise cases. Few perpetrators have been prosecuted, mainly due to lack of political will. The silence that envelopes sexual torture of men in the aftermath of the war in Croatia stands in strange contrast to the public nature of the crimes themselves.