Yearly, Uganda receives many refugees. Sexual violence remains one of the reported incidences among those who seek asylum in Uganda, especially from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Though many organizations have tried to tackle the issue of gender-based violence where sexual violence is regarded as a major form, little is known about male refugees who are victims of sexual violence. This study explores how the masculine identities of the male Congolese refugees who have experienced sexual violence have shifted and considers their struggles to overcome trauma. Using a case study of Congolese male refugees, this study will indicate the importance of recognizing sexual violence and the damage it creates to their sense of self, health and livelihood, and perhaps rethinking the problem of sexual violence from the point of view of men as victims. Through gathering the true stories from the men themselves, and from social workers (psycho-social counsellors), medical practitioners, care-takers and close relations, this study explores an area that has been under-researched in the past. This study found out that the psychological experiences sexually abused men go through are in some ways similar to those the women experiences, and even more than women sometimes, though men tend not to express themselves. The findings clearly illustrate the complex social construction of men’s sense of masculinity and how the dominant notions of masculinity has prevented these men from speaking out this issue to those around or working on their behalf. Their main coping strategies so far were found to be silence, isolation and denial of their experiences of sexual violence. This silence has hampered such men as victims from receiving the support they needed to overcome deep damage that sexual violence left them with. Also, men did not have a place in some organizations’ record-keeping on cases of sexual violence. Therefore the study suggests that those in charge of supporting refugee men could learn from approaches to masculinity which is seen as shaping men’s behaviour as victims and agents, hence influencing their responses to trauma and care.

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Harcourt, Wendy
Women, Gender, Development (WGD)
International Institute of Social Studies

Nassaka, J.M. (2012, December 14). Masculinity and Experiences of Sexual Violence: Case study of Male Congolese Refugees in Kampala Uganda. Women, Gender, Development (WGD). Retrieved from