09:10, September 06 326 0 theguardian.com

2017-09-06 09:10:03
CPS to issue guidance on handling cases of abuse against men

Prosecutors are to be given additional legal advice on handling criminal cases in which men are victims of sexual and domestic abuse.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has published its first public statement recognising the specific needs and experiences of male victims of offences including rape, domestic abuse, harassment, stalking and child sexual abuse.

Many male victims of such crimes never report what happened to the police, the CPS acknowledges. Their reluctance to come forward may be partially due to fear that their masculinity will be diminished or that assumptions will be made about their sexuality if they have been raped by a man.

The new CPS policy will involve providing prosecutors with more information “to help them better understand the experiences of male victims and the barriers to them reporting offences”.

There will be closer cooperation with charities and campaign groups that work with male victims in order to combat gender stereotyping. The way in which the gender of victims is recorded will also be improved.

The director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, 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.”

She said stereotypes of masculinity and femininity fed sexist and homophobic assumptions that deterred male victims from reporting abuse and pursuing a prosecution.

“The [CPS] 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,” she said.

The CPS has worked with a number of charities that support male victims, including ManKind Initiative, which helps men who have suffered domestic abuse from partners. According to figures it has collected through freedom of information requests, as many as 22% of all domestic abuse cases handled by police in England and Wales between 2012 and 2016 involved male victims.

A spokesman for the charity said: “The CPS 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. 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 spokesman for Survivors Manchester, an organisation that supports men who have been raped or sexually abused, added: “I am confident this will make a real difference in the lives of boys and men.”