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Male victims of rape suffer in silence

  • Published at 09:23 pm October 12th, 2020
Representational photo: Bigstock

At least 20 boys endured sexual harassment until September this year

Dhaka University (DU) student Rahman (not his real name) still has trouble sleeping as the molestation he experienced during his childhood haunts him, even after a decade.

"Even now, I have nightmares about what I went through," he said while sharing his closely guarded secret with Dhaka Tribune.

He said he was sexually assaulted by one of his teachers when he was a seventh-grader. "He touched my private parts and violated me while tutoring me in private."

After that, he said, he used to wander around instead of going to the teacher to study. "Then he started calling my mother and informing her of my absence."

"Then I had to face my mother’s wrath for ditching my studies. But I did not have the courage to tell anybody how I was suffering, what I was going through. I still have not been able to tell my family."

But somehow, his classmates at the time somehow sensed or found out about the sexual assault. "They used to laugh at me."

"Sometimes, I used to think about ending my life. But now I thank myself for not doing that," he added.

Recently, demonstrations against the rape of women spread like wildfire around the country, after the video footage of five men stripping a housewife naked, gang-raping her and filming the incident in Noakhali's Begumganj upazila went viral on social media earlier this month.

However, while incidents of rape and sexual harassment of men and boys do get covered by the mass media, they hardly come to the surface and to the forefront of such protests.

Over the last week, there have been at least two incidents where boys were reportedly raped by other men.

In Narayanganj, a madrasa student was allegedly raped for 15 days after the institution’s principal sedated him.

On October 4, the boy managed to escape and informed his parents about the incident. The principal was arrested soon after.

Two days later, another boy in Sylhet was reportedly raped in his own home by his Arabic house tutor, who himself is a madrasa student.

When the boy disclosed the incident to his family, they caught and handed over the tutor to police.

Another incident came to light in the media last year, when a man committed suicide after a group of men reportedly gang-raped him in Gazipur.

They also recorded footage of the incident, demanded a ransom, and threatened to spread the video on social media if he failed to pay.

Almost no research

However, many such cases of men or boys being raped or gang-raped remain undisclosed and there is little research on the subject.

Some 3.7% of men in rural Bangladesh raped at least another man, according to a research done by the United Nations.

But that research titled "Why Do Some Men Use Violence Against Women and How Can We Prevent It?" was conducted back in 2013.

At least 20 boys endured sexual harassment from January to September this year, according to rights organization Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK).

Of them, two were under six years of age, six are between seven and 12 years old, and four are 13 to 18 years of age. The ages of the rest of the victims could not be determined.

'Sexual perversity'

Dr Syed Md Shaikh Imtiaz, associate professor of DU’s Department of Women and Gender Studies, said that in society, in the case of men, "it is not even thought of as rape."

Most rape survivors are children as they can be forced into sexual relationships, he said, adding: "But when they have physical strength, they can resist themselves. That is why it happens less for men."

He said most boys are molested by their relatives and teachers.

About the reason behind molesting boys, he said: "In the case of adolescents, they do it out of a curiosity about sex, like how sex feels, though this does not last long. But in the case of men, it is sexual perversity."

'Side effect of masculinity'

Prof Dr Tania Haque of the same department said these incidents of sexual violence have four combinations -- first, molestation by a girl of a girl; second, molestation by a girl of a boy; third, molestation by a boy of a girl, and lastly, molestation by a boy of a boy.

Asked why the rape of boys or men is not revealed, she said: "It is a side effect of masculinity. They think they are men. If he says that he was subject to sexual violence, he faces an identity crisis.

"If they sought help through helplines, or filed cases, the actual reasons could be determined and research could be done [about sexual violence against men]."

Although there is no research on the subject in Bangladesh, a large number of boys are subject to rape, she added.