Male Tamil detainees raped - report

Place: Sri Lanka | Courtesy: TamilNet
| Date: 20000609

At least 1 in 5 male Tamil detainees in Sri Lanka have suffered sexual abuse, including rape, according to The Lancet, the British medical weekly. "We believe that sexual abuse of Tamil men in detention is common in Sri Lanka," a report by the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture published in The Lancet said, adding that the number of victims "is probably higher [than 20%] as some will not have reported it."

Based on examinations of 184 detainees, a group of 17 doctors contributed to the Medical Foundation's report. Of the 184 men, 38 said they had been sexually abused during their detention.

Three of the 38 said they had been given electric shocks to their genitals, 26 had been assaulted on their genitals, and four had sticks pushed through the anus, usually with chillies rubbed on the stick first.

One said he had been forced to masturbate a soldier manually, three had been made to masturbate soldiers orally, and one had been forced with his friends to rape each other in front of soldiers for their "entertainment".

Of the men who said they had been sexually abused, 11 reported being raped as part of that sexual abuse.

"The men who had been raped were much younger, on average, than the men who said they had not been raped. This suggests that the soldiers choose the younger and more vulnerable men to rape," the Medical Foundation said.

"Most said they had been taken out individually by the soldiers on guard and raped. Most were not able to describe the detail of the rape, because they did not have the language to explain what happened. They felt that they had been picked because they were young," the report said.

"Sexual abuse in detention starts with forced nudity," the Medical Foundation said "This is usually associated with verbal sexual threats and mocking, which adds to the humiliation and degradation of being tortured."

Sexual assault "was a form of physical assault used in the course of interrogation" the Medical Foundation said.

The Medical Foundation believes the number of victims is much higher as many are ashamed to report the assaults.

"Most of these men had not told the authorities, particularly because they were too ashamed. Shame is a very real deterrent to seeking all forms of help for both male and female victims of rape," the report said.

The Medical Foundation said that a common myth is that the guards, not being homosexual themselves, would not want to commit homosexual acts.

"However, the evidence suggests that the motivation for sexual assault of men is the demonstration of complete control over the victim,2 and that the perpetrators do not perceive themselves or their acts as homosexual," the report said.