Commitment 2: Gender-inclusive services
Sexual violence affects children regardless of their gender. It’s time to recognise that by putting services in place that cater to their specific needs.
What’s the problem?
Despite estimates that 1 in 6 boys worldwide* are affected by sexual violence, we know that services to support them are severely lacking. Our research report, Caring For Boys Affected By Sexual Violence, confirmed this.
When services work, they can help to both prevent sexual violence and to support recovery from experiences. But because sexual violence is often perceived as an issue that affects women and girls, there are a lack of options that are designed with boys in mind. This makes boys feel that they are not for them, and that they have nowhere to turn.
This lack of boy-friendly services is something we’ve seen worldwide. In Guyana, for example, the diagrams that children use to describe sexual abuse experiences only show female bodies. In the Central African Republic, male survivors are put off by
what they see as exclusively female services and the feminisation of the issue, leading to feelings of shame for using women’s services. Many services for Syrian refugees are technically open to boys, but primarily communicate to women and girls. And in many countries, criminalisation of homosexual activities makes services impossible in any case.**
As a result of not being reached by services, boys can be less likely to recognise themselves as victims, disclose their experiences, or get the help they need to recover. For the future of our society, we need to change this.
What are we calling for?
We’re calling on everyone involved in the care and protection of children to put in place measures that will result in services that are appropriate to and welcome all children, irrespective of their gender, and whilst understanding their specific needs and contexts.
This means taking the time to understanding what matters to all children, celebrating their differences, and developing services that reflect that. This could include how services are promoted to children as well as how they are designed and delivered.
Our Caring For Boys Affected by Sexual Violence report expands on the changes that need to be made.
Making it happen
Through the United For Boys Charter, we’re calling for organisations to commit to ensuring their services work for every child who needs them.
Through our package of support and guidance, we support signatory organisations to make it happen around the world.
Learn more on the United For Boys hub.
**Source: Our report, Caring for Boys Affected by Sexual Violence.