“If I talked about the idea, I might have been separated through the people. Even those who treated me might not have shaken my hands.”
Stephen Kigoma was raped during the conflict in his home country, 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 will I was a male rape survivor. I couldn’t open up – the idea’s a taboo,” he said.
“As a man, I can’t cry. People will tell you that will you are a coward, you are weak, you are stupid.”
The rape took place when men attacked Stephen’s home in Beni, a city in north-eastern DR Congo.
“They killed my father. Three men raped me, as well as they said: ‘You are a man, how are you going to say you were raped?’
“the idea’s a weapon they use to make you silent.”
After fleeing to Uganda in 2011, Stephen got medical help – yet 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 from the ward.
“I felt undermined. I was in a land I didn’t belong to, having to explain to the doctor how the idea happened. that will 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.
yet they’re far through being the only ones.
Police not an option
The Refugee Law Project, which has investigated male rape in DR Congo, has also published a report on sexual violence among South Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda.
the idea found that will more than 20% of women reported being raped – compared to just 4% of men.
“The main reason that will fewer men come forward will be that will people assume they should be invulnerable, they should fight back. They have allowed the idea so they must be homosexual,” Dr Chris Dolan, director of the organisation, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.
Legal challenges pose a problem when the idea comes to men reporting rape, he added.
“from the Rome Statute [which established the International Criminal Court] you have a definition of rape that will will be wide enough to include women as well as men, yet in most domestic legislation, the definition of rape involves the penetration of the vagina by the penis. that will means if a man comes forward, they’ll be told the idea wasn’t rape, the idea was sexual assault.
“There’s the problem of criminalisation of same-sex activity – the idea revolves around penetration of the male body, not around consent or lack of consent.”
In 2016, Uganda took in more refugees than any various other country from the globe, as well as has been praised for having some of the globe’s most welcoming policies towards them.
yet for male rape survivors like Stephen, life there can be tough. Homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda, as well as going to the police to report rape will be not always an option.
“When I asked the police, they said that will if the idea has anything to do with penetration between a man as well as a man, the idea will be gay,” he said.
“If the idea happens to a woman, we listen to them, treat them, care as well as listen to them – give them a voice. yet what happens to men?”