Sunday, 5 December, 2021

No justice for sexually abused boys


Sampada Anuranjanee Khatiwada

Kathmandu, Dec. 26: Sexual violence against boys is something that people tend to overlook due to societal norms and values. The male gender is personified by the society in such a way that they are considered to be only an offender in the sexual abuse cases, and not a victim.
Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, irrespective of their age, sex and caste. It is important to understand that people can be victim of sexual abuse, regardless of their gender and sexual orientation.
At least 120 million girls under the age of 20 (one in every 10 girls) have been the victim of sexual abuse and millions of boys, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), but they never tell anyone about being abused.
Likewise, a report titled ‘A global perspective on child sexual abuse: meta-analysis of prevalence around the world’ showed that 18 per cent of girls and 8 per cent of boys experience sexual abuse in their childhood.
Even though the recently enforced Children’s Act- 2018 states sexual misconduct against a child as a criminal conduct, the Muluki Civil (Code) Act 2017 has failed to view that the male gender can also be subjected to sexual violence.
“The societal norms will present sexual abuse against boys as a taboo, unless the Nepali legislation gives due importance to it,” said Ram Nath Sharma, an advocate. “Laws against rape in Nepal are strong and progressive, but it doesn’t address that boys can also be raped.”
Sharma said that the attention of lawmakers and the government should be drawn towards it, in order to provide remedy to male victims of sexual offence.
Aanchal Shahi, a social worker, said that victims of sexual offence felt inferior due to the way society perceived them.
The rape culture has overshadowed sexually abused boys. Like any other victims of sexual offence, they are in equal need of care, attention and justice, she added.
“Sexually violated boys tend to suffer from inferiority complex,” said Shahi. “They are more likely to feel that they are not as masculine and as macho as other men.”
This affects them in the long run, hence hampering their career and personality, she added.
Shahi said that most of the victims of sexual abuse failed to perform well in classrooms and most of them indulged themselves in criminal offence.
If a boy faces sexual assault in his childhood, there are chances hemay assault someone in the future.
The victim-blaming culture of the society has further lent hand in stigmatising the victims, she added. “To protect the victims of sexual assault, be it a girl or a boy, we, at first need to change the society’s perception towards it.”
Advocate Sharma said that the government and non-governmental organisations, along with the stakeholders, should give due importance to this issue.
“It is high time for the government to come up with effective measure to prevent sexual abuse,” he added. “Also, care and counselling services must be provided to the victims to prevent them from society’s stigmatisation.”