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We need a separate strategy for tackling physical and sexual violence against men and boys

The Home Office needs to offer a separate strategy for developing the rights and support services for men and boys who are victims of interpersonal violence of a physical or sexual nature.

This article was first featured in Dame Vera Baird’s 2020/21 Annual Report, published on 21 July 2021.

Amidst the huge amount of focus on delivering a new strategy to combat ‘Violence Against Women and Girls’ (VAWG) I am concerned that insufficient attention is being given to devise a separate strategic approach to male victims.

My concerns came into sharp focus when I discovered that some male survivors’ organisations have been asked to distribute to their membership a survey for responses for the VAWG/domestic abuse consultation. These questionnaires were addressed mainly to women and referred to crime types as VAWG. I share the view of these organisations that it is wholly insufficient to seek to survey men and boys about a VAWG strategy. Adding men and boys into a VAWG strategy is not realistic or practical and any attempt to do so is capable of being offensive and exclusionary.

It may be that the scale of men and boys’ victimisation is not currently being fully considered. Whilst crimes such as rape and domestic abuse are overwhelmingly perpetrated by men against women, there are significant numbers of male victims of these crimes too:

  • The prevalence figures estimate around 20% of adult sexual assault victims under 60 are men.
  • The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) suggests that around 4 in 100 men were victims of domestic abuse in year end March 2020.
  • Police records of rape against males July 2019 to June 2020 included 2,111 incidents where the victim was a boy under 13. This figure represents 37% of police recorded rape offences where the victim was male, which is not insignificant, particularly as the overwhelming majority of sexual offences are not reported to police.

It is imperative men and boys who experience these types of crime and abuse are able, meaningfully, to feed into any strategy which affects them. Such a strategy requires a process whereby men and boys are invited to contribute to a survey solely about men and boys.

The outcome should be a separate strategy for men and boys which sits independently of a VAWG strategy focusing on women and girls.

Read the full annual report online.