Sexual Abuse of Men In Australia

Trigger warning: This article contains references to rape and sexual abuse.

According to the national Australian Bureau of Statistics the stats on sexual assault is that 1 in 5 women have been partially, or attempted sexually assaulted.  And that 1 in 20 males have been assaulted.   Reports on sexual assault towards males is somewhat skewed with most statistics being considered as estimates.  This is partly due to the societal belief that males cannot be sexually assaulted.  And in some cases, such as sexual assault which occurs on school grounds it is written off as boys being boys.  Or boys exploring or even worse a rite of passage.

It can be argued that the idea of being sexually assaulted is shaming for a male, as he is to be considered the ‘stronger’ sex.  As well as the idea that a male is to be considered the ‘active’ part of any sexual encounters.

Male Sexual Assault And Sexual Abuse Assumptions

Also the expectation is that sexual assault towards a male is largely considered to be of a homosexual nature.  Purely because the idea of a female taking advantage of a male simply doesn’t happen.  This is incorrect and results in a significant percentage of events which should be considered sexual assaults to go largely unreported.

Sexual Abuse & Rape Facts
Statistics: Sexual Assault

This in part relies on the gendered stereotypes of men and women and states of arousal.  The idea that a male is aroused simply because he has an erection.  Or the idea that if a female initiates sex with a guy his friends consider him lucky.

Men Can be Pressured For Sex

A 2003 study suggested that just over 50% of males had been pressured for sex in a college environment in the United States.  Compared to a 78% of females.  This idea that males can be pressured for sex stems from peer pressure, the ideals of being considered masculine and a variety of other factors.

It is clear that males can be pressured into sexual activity, and that that sexual activity may not be welcome.  Let’s spend a few minutes dispelling other myths some of which have been taken from Livingwell.

Myths of Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse of Men

1. Idea that sexual assaults only occur to gay men.

No.  Regardless of gender identity or how a male identifies within his sexuality a man can be a victim of sexual assault.

2. Only gay men sexually assault other men.

When taking into consideration the prevalence of sexual assault that occur within an institutionalized setting such as prison, correctional facilities, and other forms of institutions such as University campuses, sporting clubs, gangs, schools and military – most perpetrators identify as straight.

It can often attempted to be ‘normalized’ as hazing activities which can often be found as the subject of gay porn. This does little in dispelling the ‘myths’ of sexual assault.

3. Women do not sexually assault men.

Research does suggest that the majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by men but women also sexually assault men.  It could be through manipulation, blackmail, coercion where someone is denied a promotion.  Or is forced to commit sexual acts out of fear of losing a job, a relationship, family etc.

4. Erections or ejaculation indicate that they were enjoying it.

These, as opposed to physical responses, are actually considered physiological responses which can be created through either manipulation or pressure on the prostate.  This actually causes great confusion and trauma in some men who are confused that their body reacted in a way that did not echo what they were thinking.  It is often used to coerce victims into believing that they were enjoying it.

They then spend time trying to deny that any sexual assault happened, because they ejaculated or had an erection.  And potentially descend into a depressed state as they try to rationalise their mental and physical reactions.

There Are Many Forms of Sexual Assualt and Sexual Abuse

It is also important to note, that sexual assault is not considered to be sexual intercourse. Any unwanted sexual advances involving the use of objects, or body parts can be considered sexual assault.

Statistics also state that it is not just male children who are sexually assaulted.  There are indeed more sexual assaults seen in males over the age of 15 then there are towards males under the age of 15.  A focus in the majority of literature and statistics focuses on under the age of 15 due to notions of innocence, lack of power in a ‘relationship’.  Not to be confused with a sexual relationship but the power dynamics of a relationship between a boy and his family member, teacher, or someone considered to be in a position of power.

Reports of these crimes drops after the age of 15 due to sexual maturity, sexual activity, and the idea that they have become adult males and are not likely to be a victim of sexual assault.

Survivors of Sexual Abuse

In both male and females, can suffer from a range of things including psychiatric disorders, relationship issues, and behavioural problems.  Subsets of this include depression, anxiety, PTSD and personality disorders, reckless self-endangerment, drug and alchohol abuse compulsive behaviour.

Of particular relevance to male survivors there are internal conflicts regarding sexuality which can lead to internalised/externalised homophobia, sexual dysfunction, fear of women, and masculine identity confusion.  It’s sad to know that many of these issues are often ridiculed and do nothing to assist in the trauma of male sexual assault survivors.

Limited Resources for Men

What makes it more disheartening is even with a quick search, there are a limited amount of resources available to men who have experienced some form of rape & Sexual Abuse.

Those that do seem to focus on childhood trauma and not necessarily trauma that has resulted in ones adulthood.

Author: Stephen Smith – BA Of Social Sciences, M.Ed

legal prostitutes and sexual abuse
A Street in the City

Why should Prostitution be legalized?

Prostitution is the process of engaging in sexual activity with someone who is not your spouse for pay or in exchange of valuable items.  Sex workers can be male, female or transgender. Prostitution forms an interesting chapter in the history of civilization. It is a rising problem in the history of current society.

In most countries, sex work are activities associated with are criminal acts.  Sex work is criminalized not only through prohibitions on selling sexual services but also through laws that prohibit solicitation of sex work or brothel keeping.  A number of developed countries have been in the run to offer solutions and none of them are satisfactory.

Society often refers prostitution as the “oldest profession”.

Prostitution has been in existence since Old Testament tales to todays red street lights. It has taken a number of stages from being praised, tolerated, and prosecuted to the current society which ignores the tales.

Some Countries Have legalised Prostitution

A number of developed countries have legalized prostitution. For instance, Netherlands legalized prostitution in 1997 and in the same year, two hundred and fifty brothels were listed in Amsterdam.

In the recent years, residents of the city of Amsterdam have been protesting against sex abuse and violation.  In this regard, laws have to be established and governments should lift the ban on brothels.  This will then help in reflection of today’s society reality.  It will legalize employment of women who are above the age of consent.

Australia and Germany have joined Netherlands in legalizing prostitution.

One in nine brothels have been legitimized in Australia.  As a result, prostitution in this country has led to an increased demand for sex.  A number of underground brothels have increased as well.  People who run these places take advantage of innocent young women and force them into prostitution which would be avoided if sex workers were allowed to speak up.

Legalisation of Prostitution

Although there are many reasons that support anti-legalization of prostitution, there are advantages associated making it legal.  There are many reasons why  sex work should be decriminalized.

Advocates of legalization argue that it will reduce cases of child trafficking and prostitution because if adults can practice it legally, they will not necessarily drag teenagers in to it.  They also state it will help curb women abuse and violence.  This is because it will no longer be against their will and thus, will engage in the act voluntarily which can be a source of income.

Prostitution Facts and sexual abuse
Sad but true facts about prostitution

1. Decrease in the number of rape cases

Legalization of sex work will lead to decrease in rape cases especially in urban centers. Sex workers will enjoy safer and better working conditions which lessens exposure to harm. Also, it will be an opportunity to pass laws in this industry that will protect the rights of sex workers. This means that they can sue clients who harass them or try to take advantage of them in any way.

2. Helps in reducing human violation and exploitation

Cases of human violation and sex exploitation can be reduced if the society acknowledges the existence of prostitution. This can be achieved by guaranteeing the existence of legal and social rights of prostitutes.

Safety policies in the brothels should be at par such that they protect women from harm. Clients and brothel owners should not abuse sex workers. Also, minors will not be forced in to prostitution and can seek legal advice without prejudice.

3. Helps guard against violence and abuse

Decriminalizing of prostitution will also make sex workers less vulnerable to their clients. Clients sometimes rob sex workers off their valuables. Several murder cases of sex workers have been reported in countries where prostitution is illegal and clients often get away with.

Legalizing sex work will give opportunities to sex workers to form communities where they can share experiences about dangerous and abusive clients. This way, they can work together to stop this trend.

4. Improves access to health services

Sex workers can have healthy sex lives because they can freely seek medication from health centers without the fear of discrimination. Decriminalizing prostitution will also give sex workers access to health insurance from their employers. This way, they can get treated for Sexually Transmitted Diseases and other infections.

5. Helps in curbing human trafficking

Human trafficking is a form of violation where women and girls are coerced for sex exploitation. Sex workers can provide data that will aid in the fight against human trafficking by reporting persons who are victimized.

In India, a sex worker regulatory body, the Durbar hila Samamwasya committee in songachi (Kolkata) were able to identify victims who had been kidnapped with the intention of exploiting them sexually. If prostitution is decriminalized, sex workers can collaborate with law enforcement.

6. Helps in reduction of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Decriminalization will empower sex workers with the ability to negotiate use of protection e.g. condoms with their clients. Open negotiations rarely happen in countries where prostitution is illegal because sex workers are at a risk of being arrested thus hinders them from using protection.

As a result, they can easily contract HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. Some countries have banned the use of condoms and if one is found with one, it is immediately assumed that he or she is a sex worker.

7. Establishment of safe working conditions

Decriminalization helps in establishment of safe working conditions. New Zealand is a perfect example of countries that have included sex work in Health and safety Employment Act. This has led to development of career regulations that sex workers can use to voice their rights with employers and clients. The act creates a safer working condition. They can organize collectively and address risk factors hindering them.

8. Reduction of police abuse and violence

Majority of the people who abuse sex workers are police officers. Where commercial sex is prohibited, police officers often arrest and threaten sex workers. They also face public humiliation and physical abuse. In Cambodia, sex workers have been reported to being beaten and raped by police officers.

In this context, police officers take advantage because sex workers fear being arrested and further being physically abused if they are reported.  As much as decriminalization of sex work may not completely phase out police impunity, it can however empower sex workers to file cases on officers who assault them.

9. Respect of Human Rights And Personal Dignity

Some people venture in commercial sex for various reasons. A source of livelihood and additional revenue can be a major reason why they opt to prostitution.  Despite the nature of their source of income, all people deserve be treated with dignity.

Sex work must be acknowledged like any other source of livelihood because these workers are able to comfortably support and fend for their families.  Around the globe sex workers have united to fight for their rights but this cannot be achieved if sex work is termed as illegal in many countries.

10. Decriminalization Challenges Stigma and Discrimination

Stigma that is associated with commercial sex lowers one’s self esteem. In United States, individuals who commit crimes relating to commercial sex are treated similarly with sex offenders.  They must carry documents that identify them as sex offenders. This restricts them from getting equal access to housing and other social amenities.

They cannot find work that is not sex related. If prostitution is legalized, sex workers can be recognized as individuals who engage in sexual activities for money or other rewards.  But not as out casts in the society.

11. Source of livelihood

Adults indulge in sex work so as a means of employment. For some, sex work can be the only the source of income they can find. Others find sex work as better paying and with more flexible working hours.  For some, it is a part time job. Governments should therefore legalize sex work as this can be a source of tax revenue. Benefits can be derived by both the government and sex workers.

Prostitution should be legalized.

There are strong arguments that attest to the above. Like other people, sex workers deserve to be treated with dignity. They ought to seek legal advice and health services without being discriminated or abused. Also, the income they get from these activities enables them to fend for their families which reduces poverty levels.

Legalization of prostitution is undoubtedly the best strategy towards eradicating the issues that sex workers are currently.


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