Report claims men, boys face rape in custody in Sri Lanka

A new report has claimed that despite the end of the war in 2009, men and boys faced rape while in custody.

Interviews conducted by All Survivors Project with lawyers, human rights defenders, medical professionals and others reveal significant confusion around the issue and a tendency to conflate sexual violence against men and boys with homosexuality.

Consequently, even these frontline human rights defenders are ill-equipped to document or otherwise respond to the problem.

“Despite evidence suggesting that sexual abuse of boys is common in the context of sex tourism, schools,
care homes, religious establishments and other similar settings in Sri Lanka, and that male-on-male
sexual violence outside such settings is also not uncommon, the problem is buried under silence
and denial,” the report said.

The report was drafted by Lucia Withers. It was edited by Charu Lata Hogg, Director, All Survivors Project. Mirak Raheem, Deanne Uyangoda and Marisa de Silva undertook the primary research for the Sri Lanka case study.

The report said that In Sri Lanka, a wholly inadequate legal framework also limits protection available to men and boys and undermines efforts to hold perpetrators to account.

Sri Lankan law does not recognise and therefore does not proscribe male rape. Similarly, the prohibition of statutory rape applies only to girls (under the age of 16 years) and not to boys. Added to this is widespread discrimination, also enshrined in law, against homosexuals and the criminalisation of consensual same-sex sexual acts, which may further discourage male survivors from reporting or accessing services for fear that they may be accused of homosexual activity and themselves be prosecuted.

In Sri Lanka, the proposed commission for truth, justice, reconciliation and non-recurrence represents an important opportunity to establish a fuller picture of sexual violence against men and boys and its impact, and therefore for harms to be addressed more fully. Likewise, the establishment of the planned reparations office offers the possibility of engaging and including survivors of sexual violence, both male and female from the start.

The report is the first in a planned series of reports on sexual violence against men and boys in different situations of armed conflict, past and present, to be published by All Survivors Project during the next four years.

The report says while it is premature to draw general conclusions based on a first case study, some provisional findings have already clearly emerged which have universal applicability and which also highlight immediate actions that are necessary in Sri Lanka to respond to past patterns of sexual violence against men and boys and to prevent and protect against their reoccurrence. (Colombo Gazette)