All Survivors Project (ASP) welcomes the passage of the ninth Women, Peace and Security resolution, UN Security Council Resolution 2467 which introduces new language on a survivor centred approach, reinforces the call for accountability by strengthening efforts for monitoring and documentation, including by gathering sex-disaggregated data, calls for services to be available to all survivors including men and boys (OP28) and recognises the specific targeting of men and boys in conflict and post conflict settings urging appropriate responses for male survivors including through monitoring (OP32).
While welcoming this long overdue recognition of male vulnerability, ASP deeply regrets the omission of an explicit reference to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. ASP is an independent, impartial organisation that conducts research and advocacy and facilitates inter-disciplinary dialogue and learning to improve global responses for every victim/survivor or sexual violence including men and boys in situations of armed conflict and forced displacement. ASP advocates to ensure that increased attention on the issue of male survivors does not detract from, jeopardise the safety of, or otherwise have negative implications for responses for women and girls who are disproportionately affected by sexual violence in situations of conflict.
This year’s Security Council Open Debate on Sexual Violence in Conflict marked a 10 % increase in the number of briefers who acknowledged the issue of male victimisation since 2017 (Figure 1), with 36 out of 89 speeches mentioning men and boys as survivors of sexual violence (Figure 3). With only 8 briefers referencing the vulnerability of members of the LGBTI community to sexual violence on account of their sexual orientation and gender identity (Figure 4), the issue was barely recognised despite the knowledge that targeting on the basis of SOGIESC often manifests itself as sexual violence in situations of armed conflict. The Open Debate reflected key thematic issues regarding sexual violence against men and boys (Figure 2).
Access to services
The issue of access to services for men and boys received increased attention with 12 interventions discussing the need for specific services, with a particular mention of the need for mental health responses. The tone was set by SRSG SVC Ms. Pramila Patten who underscored the need for “tailor made responses”. Other briefers, like South Africa pointed to the need for “gender-sensitive responses” while Finland noted that “while most victims are women and girls, we should not forget that men and boys are targeted as well. All survivors have their own experiences of conflict, and their own specific needs. That is why we need survivor-centred responses.” Switzerland called for a holistic approach in treating survivors of sexual violence” while Liechtenstein noted that male survivors already limited access to services is restrained due to cultural taboo and stigmatisation of the victims. Particularly relevant was the call by Mexico to implement all necessary measures to prevent the re-victimisation of survivors, both women and men, and to provide the necessary comprehensive support to ensure their rehabilitation and to strengthen their resilience. Inas Maloud, cofounder and Director of the Tamazight Women’s Movement in Libya, who also spoke on behalf of the NGO Working Group on WPS pointed to the stark reality where “in most cases (there are) no services to meet needs of female survivors, let alone male survivors”.
Over 87% of Member States called for accountability measures to be taken to bring perpetrators of CRSV to justice, however the lack of justice and or protection for male survivors was raised by only 8 briefers (approx. 8 %). Member States called for stronger rule of law and increased security sector reform to further bolster efforts on ending impunity for perpetrators. Germany in particular, referenced the need for justice, including by focusing “on those who do not get enough attention for example men and boys”. Netherlands noted that “accountability for sexual violence sends a strong message to perpetrators of sexual violence against women, girls, men and boys”.
Resolution 2467 explicitly called for “…services should include provisions for women with children born as a result of sexual violence in conflict, as well as men and boys who may have been victims of sexual violence in conflict including in detention settings…”. Detention as a vulnerability for sexual violence against males was raised by three briefers. In particular, SRSG Patten, pointed to the need for specific responses for “men and boys who often endure sexual violence in the context of detention and interrogation”.
Three briefers noted the correlation between prevailing gender norms and male victimisation. Resolution 2467 provides specific language to “offer appropriate responses to male survivors and challenge cultural assumptions about male invulnerability to such violence”. Miloud pointed that the “deeply held belief of masculine invulnerability and gender stereotypes work to stigmatise male survivors in Libya”. Switzerland noted that “A man is a hero, never a victim. Such gender stereotypes make it very difficult but not impossible to break the cycle of violence and revictimisation”.
This Open Debate and Security Council Resolution constitutes an important step towards greater recognition of the issue of male sexual victimisation. However, greater and more sustained efforts are needed to ensure that responses to conflict-related sexual violence are inclusive, competent and specific and respond to the needs of all survivors of sexual violence.