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3 Aug 2017

'We Need To Talk About Male Rape': Survivor Speaks Out, 6 Years After

Stephen was raped in 2011 during the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He described his ordeal in an interview with the BBC's Alice Muthengi, calling for more survivors to come forward.
"I hid that I was a male rape survivor. I couldn't open up - it's a taboo," he said. "As a man, I can't cry. People will tell you that you are a coward, you are weak, you are stupid."

The rape took place when men attacked Stephen's home in Beni. "They killed my father. Three men raped me, and they said: 'You are a man, how are you going to say you were raped?' "It's a weapon they use to make you silent."

After fleeing to Uganda in 2011, Stephen got medical help - but only after a physiotherapist treating him for a back problem realised there was more to his injuries.

He was taken to see a doctor treating survivors of sexual violence, where he was the only man in the ward. "I felt undermined. I was in a land I didn't belong to, having to explain to the doctor how it happened. That was my fear."

Stephen was able to get counselling through the Refugee Law Project, an NGO in Uganda's capital, Kampala, where he was one of six men speaking about their ordeal. But they're far from being the only ones.

"The main reason that fewer men come forward is that people assume they should be invulnerable, they should fight back. They have allowed it so they must be homosexual.

In the Rome Statute [which established the International Criminal Court] you have a definition of rape that is wide enough to include women and men, but in most domestic legislation, the definition of rape involves the penetration of the vagina by the penis.

That means if a man comes forward, they'll be told it wasn't rape, it was sexual assault. There's the problem of criminalisation of same-sex activity - it revolves around penetration of the male body, not around consent or lack of consent," Dr Chris Dolan, director of Refugee Law Project told BBC.

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