Sexual violence against men, although quite common, is rarely addressed. In fact, it has become a taboo topic where social stigma and humiliation often prevent victims from coming forward and reporting the crime.
Men and boys who are assaulted by females are frequently brushed off and dismissed while male-on-male rape is treated for laughs as a joke. Meanwhile, the rape survivors who make the courageous decision to come forward find themselves bullied and further abused.
While many charities and organizations have dedicated themselves to the cause, a hospital in Sweden is taking a step further to ensure "gender equality" when it come to emergency medical care for rape victims.
A hospital in Stockholm has announced to open an emergency department solely for male rape victims later this year. The clinic at Södersjukhuset will become the first in the country – if not, the world – to have an individual facility for the victims of such horrific incidents.
“The general perception is that men cannot be raped,” said Lotti Helström, a senior physician at the hospital. “In studies, the health effects are shown to be greater for men, both in terms of physical health and mental health. There is a greater risk of a raped man getting post-traumatic stress disorder.”
She added that male victims can suffer even more than women mainly because the subject of male rape is “extremely taboo.” The doctor also explained that men are much more likely to be raped by other men than by women.
Södersjukhuset is one of the largest hospitals in Sweden and has the largest emergency care unit in the northern Europe. It also runs a round-the-clock walk-in clinic for women and girls who have been sexually assaulted.
Sweden, unfortunately, has the highest rape rate in the Europe by a considerable extent, making sexual assault a matter of political debate in the recent years.
“There are myths about masculinity that make it difficult for men who have been sexually traumatized to talk about their experiences,” explained Inger Björklund, a spokesperson for the gender equality organization RFSU. “A clinic focusing on men who have been sexually abused will contribute to the awareness of experiences of sexual abuse among men and make it more possible to meet men needs in a very exposed situation.”