Sweden Just Took a Giant Step Against Male Rape

October 17th 2015

Thor Benson

Though cases of women getting raped are more common than cases of men getting raped, that doesn't mean men aren't raped. With this in mind, Sweden recently opened the world's first emergency clinic to help male rape victims.

About 370 Swedish men and boys were sexually assaulted in 2014, according to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention. This number could be inaccurate, as many rapes and other sexual assaults are not reported. Sweden has the highest rate of rape incidents in Europe.

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In America, we have our own issues with sexual assault. About 1 in 6 American women are the victim of attempted or completed rape in their lifetimes, and 1 in 33 American men experience attempted or completed rape, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. Furthermore, many young boys and young girls experience sexual assaults such as molestation. Many question how a man can be raped, due to the physiological difficulties involved, and it can be a complicated question to answer.

"Generally speaking the term 'rape' refers to anytime any orifice on a victim's body is penetrated by a perpetrator," Christopher Anderson, the executive director of the organization for male victims of rape called Male Survivor, told ATTN:. Anderson said "legal and cultural definitions of rape vary from place to place, and there are parts of the U.S. and the world where there is no such thing as rape against a male in the criminal law."

In 2013, the FBI's definition of rape changed from specifically being a crime committed against women to also including men. Anderson said a general definition of rape should cover when someone is penetrated or forced to penetrate, in any way, against their will.

There are many ways men can be raped. A man can be verbally coerced into sex, physically forced to have sex, penetrated by a man, penetrated by a woman using an apparatus, and more. Whether a man is shamed by a woman or another man into sex, or a man or woman gets him drunk for the purpose of getting him to have sex with them, it can definitely be labeled rape.

As for the physiological issue, the first thing to know is a physiological response does not equal interest. Just because a man becomes aroused, that does not mean he is willing to have sex, and that's the same for a woman. Some physiological responses are out of a person's control. Furthermore, for men, it is possible someone could slip them a stimulant like Viagra without them realizing.

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One of the major issues related to men being raped is the stigma around it. Not only do people tend to laugh at the idea, because they don't understand it, but there are other stigmas. "The main stigma stems from the idea that a man can’t experience of any kind of victimization and still be considered a man," Anderson said. "In addition, the idea that a man could have been raped by a woman is tantamount to saying he has experienced the ultimate emasculation, [and that makes] it extremely difficult for a man who has been raped and/or sexually assaulted by a female to be believed." He said there is also a stigma against believing a gay man might rape another gay man.

Anderson said he hopes other countries learn from Sweden and realize addressing sexual assault against men is important, just like addressing sexual assault against women.