Not only is this claim that women and girls are disproportionately affected an unsubstantiated assumption but acknowledging only the suffering of one gender is ethically wrong, and impedes our understanding of sexual violence in conflict as a whole.
Resolution 2106 is one of eight resolutions in the UN’s Women, Peace and Security agenda, which provides the framework for addressing conflict-related sexual violence. And herein lies the problem. While the framework for addressing such violence lies within the Women, Peace and Security agenda, men will continue to be structurally discriminated against as victims.
For example, in UN field missions, the appointed lead for Women, Peace and Security matters, including sexual violence, is the women’s protection adviser. This not only excludes men from responses to sexual violence in conflict, but also perpetuates the idea that sexual violence is only a women’s issue, reinforcing the stereotype that only women are victims. For male victims to be brought to the fore, conflict related sexual violence needs to be discussed separate from Women, Peace and Security.
The acknowledgement of male victims should not be in opposition to women. Sexual violence is just as much a men’s issue as it is women’s, but the current international framework, in its exclusion of men as victims, is also limiting their inclusion as advocates. Fully recognising male victims will not only bring much needed support and assistance, but mobilise men in addressing the causes and consequences of sexual violence in conflict as a whole, benefitting both men and women. Ignoring it shuts out a vital partner in tackling sexual violence as a weapon of war.
- This article was first published by Chatham House, where Héloïse Goodley, a serving British Army officer, is a Research Fellow in International Security