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Dying of shame

30 May 2012

Just weeks after an article instigated by Christian Aid journalist Emma Pomfret  in the Observer Magazine earned a prestigious One World Media award for highlighting the controversial subject of male rape,  the piece also scooped the Amnesty International Media Award for Best Magazine supplement of 2011.

The Rape of Men, written by Will Storr, and published in the Observer Magazine, Vanity Fair, and GQ last summer, scooped the prestigious awards after highlighting the brave and inspirational work of the Refugee Law Project, one of Christian Aid’s long-standing partners based in Kampala.

Following the Ugandan government’s notorious proposal to introduce the death penalty for homosexuality, Emma discovered that the vast majority of male rape victims who had fled conflict in the DRC for a relatively safer life across the border in Uganda were then accused of being homosexual if they dared to report their ordeal to Ugandan police or doctors alike.

Male rape Some men were even thrown into prison without trial or simply ‘disappeared’ when they were forced to attend hospital appointments with life-threatening injuries.

UN changes definition of 'rape'

The impact of the article - which was shared more than 17,000 times on Facebook and hailed as one of the most ever read articles on the Guardian’s website - resulted in the United Nations changing its definition of ‘rape’ to include men and boys.

The UN also called upon RLP director Chris Dolan to write a high-level paper on how best to treat male victims of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations.

The idea for the article was researched and facilitated by Christian Aid's Africa editor Emma Pomfret who travelled to Kampala alone and then with journalist Will Storr in March last year to interview more than 20 male rape survivors from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Emma and Will also travelled to the DRC and Uganda in January this year with the BBC World Service which will broadcast two follow-up radio programmes in early July 2012 on the issue of male and female rape as weapons of war.  

Download the UN guidelines

Read the UN guidelines, written by Chris Dolan of the Refugee Law Project, as a direct result of the Observer piece, 'The rape of men'.

Working with men and boy survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in forced displacement (PDF, 548kb)

Read the article on the Observer magazine and see the audio slideshow here.


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