According to a new report, over half a million sexual assaults and rape of males have taken place in the last four years.
GLA Conservative, Kemi Badenoch's, report, Silent Suffering: Supporting the Male Survivors of Sexual Assault offers the reader insight into the rates of sexual offending against males; the barriers boys and men face in coming forward; the problem with services for males; and the potential problem with using a title 'Violence Against Women and Girls' for reports that include all genders.
As I read the report, I had to keep reminding myself of the fact that this was a report authored by a female. That's important. That's very important. In fact I think it's probably vital at the moment.
So should I now take shelter before the onslaught of items are 'virtually' thrown at me from 'either side' for suggesting that? Because it seems that every time I begin talking about the need for us as a society to see boys and men as victims of sexual violation I get told to shut up (the irony eh!) or smiled at and then proceeded by a discussion about women. Why? Why is it like this?
The only time it doesn't happen is when I begin talking about being sexually abused and raped myself. When I show my vulnerability, when I talk about my scars, when I tell people about the issues I'm still dealing with all these years later. Then it doesn't happen. Then I get female survivors telling me they know 'exactly' how I must have felt at the time. How? How do they know?
I recently wrote that its about time men got off their arses and became the solution, despite the fact that we're often seen as the problem. Some have, but not that MENy (get it, men/many, oh never mind!).
Women have most certainly led the way in fighting sexual violence, something I am eternally grateful for and happy to always publically declare that - despite the fact that a few trolls believe they have got to tell me something they believe is vitally important (usually something about me being a disgrace to manhood and probably a 'lefty' feminist - I've certainly been a disgrace and if being a male who is a feminist is about being a man that fundamentally believes to the core of himself the need for equality then yeah, I am but I don't think I have ever been a disgrace and a feminist at the same time?). I'd like to hear the voices of men speaking up and having sensible and important conversations but I know that when some have tried, they haven't gotten far.
Badenoch's report makes a number of valuable recommendations, asking Boris to consider a number of things, from lobbying the government to introduce an amendment to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to include the ability for women to be charged with rape as a primary offence; to supporting service provision, and developing a Sexual Offences Against Boys and Men strategy - yes, yes and thrice yes!
She also recommends the Met should work with the College of Policing to produce specialist training for officers dealing with male rape, something I've personally been doing with Greater Manchester Police for over five years now. Ey up, looks like we're blazing trails up north.
Whilst this really is a great report and I am delighted that its been written, the recommendations aren't new, I have heard them before from other people, most of them men that started this discussion many years ago. I have myself asked many times why we haven't got a Sexual Offences Against Boys and Men strategy. Don't get me wrong here, this isn't a criticism of her work, far from it, as a survivor and as a service provider, I'm genuinely grateful for her effort and I will certainly use it.
But I'm just fascinated as to why Badenoch's work is receiving so much attention?
Will the fact that this a report authored by a woman, a feminist even, open the doors to discussion (that doesn't mean shouting at one another) that have previously been closed?
Will she suffer the 'onslaught of slings and arrows' for talking about male victims as a woman and a feminist and will it be seen as disloyal to 'her side'?
I do wonder. I wonder will there be a time that we wont talk of 'sides', or at least will we ever be adult enough to acknowledge that there are sides, that it's ok, it doesn't mean one against the other, and that there is a huge shared space in the middle.
But for now, I'd like to publicly say thanks Kemi. Thank you for highlighting in Greater Manchester, there are an estimated 35,564 males that have experienced sexual offences in the past four years. Thank you for highlighting there are an estimated 34,177 that didn't report anything.
Thank you for taking the time and effort to stand up and use your voice to help male survivors.
See lads, see what can be achieved!