Exclusion of the male gender in gender discussions and interventions

I hope I don’t sound controversial, I have been reading through a lot of publication on gender and legal approach to gender based violence and how biased the approach is. @marenabrinkhurst @abigailmoy @Purity_Wadegu @Lore Did you know that one out of 10 men in Kenya has been physically or sexually assaulted by the wife o[r partner?][1] But the challenge is that in Kenya the intervention and interpretation of gender based violence or even gender is biased on women and the girl child.

Did you also know that research has found that neglect of the boy child has lead to alcoholism in many parts of Kenya [especially in central Kenya?][2]

I could list as many examples but for now I shall leave it at these two examples. This brings me to my point, What interventions should we take to include the boy child in the discourse on gender? Should we do more empowerment to the boy child? Is there best practices in other countries that @abigailmoy you could share with us that I and purity can discuss on the radio show that we host every weekend at Pamoja fm?

@Purity_Wadegu hosting the radio Uhaki show
[1]: http://www.nation.co.ke/news/-/1056/2679830/-/155t6duz/-/index.html [2]: Boy child neglect to blame for rampant alcoholism, say leaders


Thanks @mustafa_mahmoud for pointing out this controversial issue. There are two very important things to Note here: First, the history of the term Gender in Kenyan context. The term Gender was used to describe at activities related to female, girls, ladies, and women. It emerged at a time when women/female were marginalized and seen as a second class citizen, their place was at the Kitchen. This notion has stayed with us to date and I see it is not changing soon. In Kenyan Context Gender means Female empowerment ( You can see it clearly on gender empowerment projects). The second point is need for paradigm shift; we now need to redefine the term Gender in Kenya so that it gets the global meaning. As outlined above, the difination of Gender in Kenya is not the same with the international meaning.

Thank you for raising this important point @mustafa_mahmoud. In our work at the International Child Redress Project we have also found that a large number of boys are the victims of child sex abuse in Southeast Asia, including by Western men, but the focus tends to be on the girl child. In our work so far in Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines, around 70% of the child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation we have come across have been boys. We have found that many Western men seek out exclusively boys under the age of 12 for sex. Due to the shame and stigma surrounding rape in general and particularly of boys in Southeast Asia the victims often stay silent. Is this not a form of gender-based violence?

We have found that there is intense shame surrounding child sex abuse and exploitation for boys in many countries, even more sometimes than for girls, and therefore boys and their parents are often very reluctant to seek justice. In Vietnam the law currently only criminalises rape of women and girls, and not of boys. This means that men who rape boys (which is sadly very common in Vietnam) can only be prosecuted for obscenity which is a lesser offence.

There is a need for advocacy to bring the boy child into the discourse on gender-based violence and child sexual abuse, and also to bring national laws in line with the international legal framework in this area. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography clearly include boys within the definition of child, and therefore within the protection of the law. Empowerment for boys starts with acknowledging that boys are also victims of gender based violence, and highlighting that this is a crime, for which there is a legal remedy. There is also a need for much better implementation of existing criminal laws to ensure perpetrators are bought to justice, as well as implementation of civil laws which provide child victims with the right to redress.


thanks for bringing up this issue. it has so often been over looked and after reading this post it has become glaring how gender talks have become biased against the male.

My country Cameroon is a male dominated society. like Kenya, gender talks are almost synonymous to women empowerment and emancipation. men are often left out and when they are included in gender talks it is to offer support to women.

In the course of exercising my duties as legal counsel, i have equally observed that there is a lot of gender based violence against men. besides economic and financial pressure which they have to live under daily, i discovered that boys are also victims of home based sexual abuse. i have had encounters with boys who were raped by their nannies and older female relatives. however, i have never met any of them who felt abused or victimized by those actions. most of them rather seemed to have enjoyed it or sound proud of their “early achievements”.

this controversy made me wonder if i could really treat this situation as gender based violence where the victims don’t seem to be victimized.

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@joycenyamboli even if they enjoyed it, its still abuse because they never consented to it. I think the measurement here should be consent and if he is a minor, I presume we all know minors in law their consent is not taken since they are underage and that falls under defilement. I think the major problem is that boys will always be boys, they are born with the ego that they keep dearly and they never want to show they are weak and that’s why they boast that they enjoyed being abused just to hide their weakness. That’s is the assumption @emmaday that many law makers in the world including South East Asian countries have, that it’s always the man violating the woman’s right since they assume he is the stronger sex. Many a times these beautiful laws are drafted by us the feminists who in good will want to protect the girl child and now there iis a paradigm shift where now the girl has over powered the boy child. So how do will tackle this? @Lore @lytteltonbraima @lauragoodwin @abigailmoy

Thanks for the head’s up. I think you are spot right. It’s the male ego that covers male gender violence and the female weakness that exposes theirs.

This discussion is so enlightening. Henceforth I think I’m going to more sensitive towards gender issues.

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@joycenyamboli am delighted that this article has enlightened you. Please consider the boy child as an extinct specie with the biggest challenge is his ego killing him softly and needs attention before he is buried by his ego. Need for more empowerment to this specie :wink:

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I guess gender has a lot to do with the mind than the reality in our societies. This is what is making some gender programs less gender-friendly. Instead of having a well-designed program that is geared toward driving a fair balance of equity and empowerment for both sexes, some programs are often skewed toward females, as some of you have already observed. This is so ingrained in our minds that even as new challenges such as rape and sexual abuse of young boys emerge, we are finding it hard to acknowledge it as a crime. For example, in some African villages, if a woman beats her husband, her female friends cheer her up for being strong. The man’s male friends would chide and mock at him for being lazy. No one talks of gender-based violence once the man is the sufferer. This is because in many cultures/customs the man is expected to be stronger than the opposite sex. In fact for some, it is unimaginable for a woman to be beaten by his wife. But this is the reality, it is happening in many African communities. Equally an adult female who lures a boy of 16/17 years old (which is not an age of consent in many countries) into a sexual encounter is not usually regarded as a rapist, despite the age difference. In fact, if the issue came to the attention of the husband, he files a suit against the lad for what is called “woman damage”. (Contaminating the woman/having sexual intercourse with another man’s wife). In many such instances, the boy’s age is not taken into account, and the fact he was actually raped is not given credence by the local authorities. If he admits having an affair with the woman, he becomes the perpetrator and the law falls on him (the underage victim) instead of the perpetrator (the woman). This is so because of the way we think about who does what between the two sexes. Society has been brainwashed to believe that only men can ask for sex, or for that matter carry out rape. Lastly, same sex marriages are now happening almost everywhere these days. Some countries have already passed legislations on same sex marriage while some are in the process of enacting laws to the effect. Perhaps, it is only a matter of time before it becomes a universal practice. In that regard, our thinking of gender should not now be limited to male and female alone. We have to broaden the scope as these new realities surface. Empowerment and equity in terms of gender are becoming more complicated and confused. It requires new thinking, new ideas and new interpretation.

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@lytteltonbraima You have made my night. :smile: Well said :wink:

I just saw this new film by the Refugee Law Project advertised to be launched on November 17th.

“Refugee Law Project is finalising a film project made by a group of male survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. The film titled “Men Can Be Raped Too” is funded by the British and American Governments.”

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A saw cuts both sides. If we are going to advocate for Gender empowerment of any kind. We need to correct the already done damage an ensure that as we empower one gender, we are not taking power from the other. Otherwise we will keep today is the girl child tomorrow is the boy child. Zero progress.

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@mustafa_mahmoud @Derrcy @Lore @lytteltonbraima In Kenya, and maybe the whole world, women were really facing discrimination in Political,Social,Economic and Cultural sectors. the fight for inclusion was set off and it went al out to achieve equality. Unfortunately, as this was being done, the boy child was somehow forgotten. The war is not over for as much as we claim to have made milestones we have a long way to go. Most societies are Patriarchal and the society has expectations on them. Unfortunately, Men who are victims of Domestic can not speak out due to these expectations. the main reason of them continuously being abused being that they fear how the society will react, same case scenario for men who are sexually abused. There needs to be thorough education on the importance of speaking out. And the society needs to have a paradigm shift on the way that it views Male Victims.

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