Caring for Male and LGBTI Sexual Violence Survivors: Learning from Local Organisations

Sarah Chynoweth

Forced Migration Review 57, February 2018, pp. 41-42


Awareness of the vulnerabilities of boys and men and of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals to sexual violence has increased among humanitarian actors responding to the Syrian crisis, however targeted services remain scarce. Replicating interventions designed for women and girls is ineffective and may be harmful. International humanitarian actors can learn from and build on the work of local organizations that are at the forefront of providing specialized care for male and LGBTI survivors of sexual violence. Key to their success is their close collaboration with affected communities, and tackling several barriers to accessing care including negative attitudes from care providers, destructive socio-cultural norms and lack of awareness of available services. Local organizations also identified areas of overlap with traditional GBV interventions, such as community awareness raising around sexual violence. Their response was to: (a) train providers in the clinical management of male rape survivors; (b) integrate awareness raising on sexual violence services for men and boys into their mobile medical team; (c) engage community and religious leaders to raise awareness about sexual violence, including against males; establish men-only support activities, facilitated by male counselors; (d) and conduct outreach to refugee men and boys to engage them in group activities. The author argues that sexual violence against both male and LGBTI persons can be addressed without compromising targeted services for women and girls.