Intersections between men, a gendered misrecognition and transitional justice across conflict geographies
Coinciding with the British presidency of the G8 and under the leadership of Foreign Secretary William Hague, on 10-13 June 2014 the UK will host a global summit on sexual violence in conflict areas. As part of the UK Stabilisation Unit’s Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict will gather representatives from the 122 countries that endorsed the UN Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, along with civil society actors, scholars, judicial, medical, NGO and military practitioners.
According to the Foreign Office, it will be the largest ever convened high-level summit on sexuality and conflict, aiming to tackle sexual violence in warzones and to strengthen mechanisms to document and investigate sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) in conflict areas. Certainly, sexual violence against women and girls is a main component of SGBV in conflict – it is, however, not the end of the story. The more I familiarise myself with Hague’s initiative and discussions, the more I observe with concern that the issue of sexual violence in conflict appears overwhelmingly situated within issues of women’s and children’s rights, women and peace-building or women-oriented projects of post-conflict transformation. Sexual violence against men, boys and sexual minorities, however, is barely mentioned.
While tempting, my intention in this article is not to discuss Britain’s motivations to embrace sexual violence in conflict areas as a 2014 top foreign policy priority. I am sure that such motivations will shortly generate critical debate among scholars and students of transnational sexuality studies. Rather, the objective of this post is to draw attention to an overlooked issue that the Stabilisation Unit and the international community needs to take more seriously: sexual and gender-based violence against men.