Following the recent SAMRC report about the sexual abuse of boys and men, All4Women spoke to lawyer Deepa Vallabh about the need for parents to speak to their children about gender based violence and sexual abuse.

Last week, the South African Medical Research Council, SAMRC, revealed the findings of its study into sexual violence against men.

The report, titled Unspoken Victims, found that men and boys are still less likely than women to alert authorities if they have been assaulted sexually.

Dr Machisa of the SAMRC said that research into the sexual abuse of males is “not well-documented.”

“It’s something that is not talked about but also, we have problems of under-reporting whereby there are rape myths that are there about men who get raped and these kind of deter victims from reporting.”

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Society needs to act NOW to stop the ‘epidemic’ of sexual violence affecting women and men in SA

Free legal services for GBV victims

Deepa Vallabh, a lawyer from international law firm, CMS, is collaborating with other legal professionals to provide pro bono legal services to GBV survivors and victim support groups.

Vallabh told All4Women that utterances like ‘boys don’t cry’ and ‘don’t be a sissy’ are the reason boys keep silent about being victims of rape.

“We still have the same patriarchal dialogue that runs through our society in terms of what is expected of a man, what is expected of a boy and unfortunately these narratives prevent us to effectively deal with the real issues,” she said.

She insisted that it’s necessary to shatter these stereotypes so that males can be empowered to speak out when they are victimised.

It is also important for parents to discuss sex abuse and GBV with their children.

Vallabh said: “If we don’t talk about it with our children, how do kids know, in that situation, what to do?”

“I think that we don’t do enough within our communities and within our schools to actually educate and allow kids to have the courage to actually bring some of these incidences to light.”

She suggested: “It should almost be compulsory for schools to be making sure that this kind of education, this kind of messaging actually is filtered throughout their classes.”

This way, children will know how to spot inappropriate behaviour and where to go for help.

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