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International Human Rights Law and Sexual Violence Against Men in Conflict Zones

Hennessey, Tom and Gerry, Felicity (2012). International Human Rights Law and Sexual Violence Against Men in Conflict Zones. United Kingdom: Halsbury's Law Exchange, LexisNexis Butterworths.

Document type: Research Report
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Author Hennessey, Tom
Gerry, Felicity
Title of Report International Human Rights Law and Sexual Violence Against Men in Conflict Zones
Publication Date 2012
Publisher Halsbury's Law Exchange, LexisNexis Butterworths
Place of Publication United Kingdom
Total Pages 25
Field of Research 390000 Law, Justice and Law Enforcement
Abstract Sexual violence is an abhorrent, and sadly prevalent, feature of many conflicts. The widespread occurrence of sexual violence has a devastating impact on the victims and society at large. Although international treaties seek to prevent such violence occurring these are often ineffectual at times of socio-political flux and therefore protection is required for the victims of these atrocities.
Current discourse on sexual violence arising in conflict zones focuses almost exclusively on violence perpetrated against women and children - these groups making up the large majority of reported incidents.

However, the current figures do not accurately reflect the number of male victims of sexual violence. A lack of reporting by male victims, for reasons of shame, guilt and fear of not being believed or of being denounced for what has occurred, has created an inaccurate representation of the dynamics of sexual violence in conflict zones.

This lack of accurate primary data contributed to the development of a culture of silence amongst governmental organisations and NGOs on the subject of male victims. In the past decade this silence has begun to break but there still remains a reticence to fully engage with the realities of male victims of sexual violence.

Efforts have been made to create international legal instruments to provide recourse for victims of sexual violence. However, the positive steps taken to develop an effective framework of legal protection have been focussed almost exclusively on the protection of female and child victims. The lack of recognition of male victims of sexual violence has resulted in an international legal
blind spot that needs to be addressed.

The gender imbalance of current legislation should be rectified by the UK working towards a UN General Assembly resolution recognising sexual violence against men and demonstrating the UN’s commitment to a gender-neutral approach to sexual violence.

Greater protection for the victims of sexual violence can be achieved by the UK accepting the right of individual petition under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention Against Torture – allowing those whose rights under the treaty have been violated to bring their case
directly to the treaty body.

The recommendations of this paper seek to: raise awareness within the international community of the male victims of sexual violence in conflict zones; clarify the legal landscape; and provide access to legal redress for previously underrepresented victims.
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