Early Stage Researcher Kimberley Anderson has just returned to the Netherlands after two months of research overseas at the Women in War department of Harvard University’s Humanitarian Initiative. Alongside director Jocelyn Kelly, Kimberley explored some data collected in 2012 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, on the male perspective of sexual violence; preparing it for academic journal submission.
The focus group and survey data was collected from more than 200 men who had shared a household with a female survivor of sexual violence. Males were asked about their experiences of community stigmatisation and the shame that is associated to family members of rape victims.
Results suggest that men are also direct victims of humiliation, and made to feel ‘useless’ for not protecting their families. As such, men discussed the difficulty in deciding whether to accept or reject a woman back into the household following rape. Factors affecting rejection were fear of sexually transmitted infections, children born of rape and economic costs associated with medical treatment. Pathways to acceptance of women included love and affection, child rearing responsibilities and a women’s economic contribution to the household.
This work will complement Kimberley’s own PhD exploring the strengths and difficulties of mothers and their children born of rape, particularly in designing treatment in refugee centres in Europe, whereby it might be beneficial for male family members to be included in treatment.