Plans to make it easier for male victims of sexual and domestic abuse to come forward it have been unveiled by prosecutors in what has been described as a “landmark moment”.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said many male victims of such crimes never report it to police for a variety of reasons including fear their masculinity may appear to be diminished if they report domestic abuse, or that homophobic assumptions will be made around their sexuality if they are raped by a man.
In order to tackle this the CPS has published its first ever public statement and set out a number of commitments to recognise the needs and experiences of male victims of offences such as rape, domestic abuse, harassment, stalking and child sexual abuse.
Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions, said: “The way society views masculinity can make it very difficult for men and boys who are the victims of sexual and domestic offences to come forward.
“This ‘public statement’ formalises the CPS commitment to male victims and recognises that stereotypes of masculinity and femininity can, and do, feed sexist and homophobic assumptions.
“These can deter male victims from reporting abuse and pursuing a prosecution.
“The statement addresses this challenge and I hope it will create an environment that gives male victims increased confidence to come forward and get the justice they deserve.”
The CPS said it will give prosecutors information to help them better understand the experiences of male victims and the barriers to them reporting offences, and it will work with third sector organisations and campaign groups to challenge gender stereotypes and improve reporting.
It also plans to involve more national men’s groups, as well as groups working with boys and girls, in the scrutiny of CPS policies.
The service said it has worked with groups which represent the interests of male victims to explore the issues they face in relation to these offences.
The statement forms part of the CPS’s revised Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy 2017-2020.
The CPS said that, in line with the United Nations conventions and ratified by the Government, it recognises these crimes have a disproportionate number of female victims, hence the continued use of the term VAWG. However, the CPS said it also recognises the experience of male victims and the distressing impact on them.
The announcement on Wednesday was welcomed by charities.
A spokesman for the ManKind Initiative said: “The public statement and the commitments it makes are landmark moments for male victims of crimes such as domestic abuse, stalking and forced marriage.
“We are very pleased with the CPS for sending a clear and inclusive message to both the criminal justice system, and to society as a whole, about the need to ensure male victims are recognised.
“I am certain this statement will encourage more men to come forward with the full confidence of the positive support and acknowledgement they will receive when they do so.”
A Survivors Manchester spokesman said: “We very much welcome this ground-breaking public statement on male victims of crimes currently included in the VAWG strategy, to ensure that the voices of male victims and survivors of sexual rape and abuse are heard.
“We look forward to continuing our work with the CPS to progress our collective understanding further across agencies. I am confident this will make a real difference in the lives of boys and men.”