'Sexually abused men suffer in silence'

HARARE – Zimbabwean men and boys have become victims of politically-motivated sexual violence but choose to remain quiet because of the stigma associated with it, a new report says.

A study by Research Advocacy Unit (RAU) revealed that men have been subjected to politically-motivated sexual abuse since 2000.

Kuda Chitsinde, who authored the research document entitled Zimbabwe’s Macho Men: Politically Motivated Sexualised Violence by Men against Men, said the stigma associated with sexual abuse also hindered men from opening up about the abuse.

“Men and boys are reluctant to report sexual violence because of the stigma associated with it which makes it very difficult to accurately assess its scope,” Chitsinde said.

“This stigma is worsened by the perception that a man who is raped is either a homosexual or will become a homosexual as a result of the rape.”

She added: “In a country like Zimbabwe where a president has spoken out against homosexuals calling them worse than pigs and dogs, it becomes impossible for a man to speak out about his experiences and seek help.

“As a result male victims of politically-motivated sexual violence suffer quietly.

“They however, not only suffer from the physical injuries inflicted on them but also from an extreme sense of humiliation and isolation.”

A sample of 28 men from four provinces of Harare, Matabeleland North, Bulawayo and Midlands who were affected since 2000, took part in the study which was conducted through questionnaires.

The men revealed they had been subjected to sodomy and that they had been forced to have sexual intercourse with either a woman or a man. Some reported to have been forced to gang rape a woman.

They also said they were forced to strip in public and had their genitals touched. Most of these abuses occurred either at a militia base or at their homes in front of other people.

Six of the men who took part in the study said they had been forced to strip in public while five had been forced to watch family members strip.

Two were forced to watch family members being gang raped while four had electrical cords tied to their genitals.

The report states that some were forced to simulate sexual intercourse with a hole in the ground while others were forced to masturbate in public.

Another man was forced to have sexual intercourse with a man.

When a man is raped in Zimbabwe, it is usually considered “aggravated indecent assault,” under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Chitsinde says there is need to intensify research on politically- motivated sexual violence on both men and women.

“Protection mechanisms need to be set up for victims of sexual violence to enable them to receive treatment and counselling in safe spaces,” she said.

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