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Tuesday, March 9, 1999 Published at 19:03 GMT


Health

Male rape 'must be tackled'

Male rape can lead to despair

The government needs to address urgently the lack of services for and information on male rape, nurses heard on Tuesday.

The RCN congress, meeting in Harrogate, voted almost unanimously for a resolution urging further research into a neglected area.

Paul Rogers, a mental health nurse, said the law had recognised male rape as a crime since 1994.

Yet many myths persisted about it. For instance, that only gay men raped or were raped and that it only affected the weak.

This increased the trauma suffered by victims of male rape.

"Many people believe it is about sexual gratification when so often it is about power," he said.

Mr Rogers said he had worked with a man who had been repeatedly raped by four men in a 30-minute attack.

The man was 60 years old and a grandfather.

Many men who are raped suffer post traumatic stress disorder, he said.

"A change in the law is only the first step," he said.

Home Office statistics for 1997 show 342 men were raped.

Mr Rogers says this is likely to be a vast underestimate.

He has met 11 men who have been raped.

Only one reported his attack to police.

All had tried to kill themselves and many had taken to drugs or alcohol to bury their memories.

He added that there were hardly any services available for men who have been raped.

Rape crisis centres were often not accessible to men and there is only one helpline run by a self help group for a few hours a week.

Tony Pattison of the HIV Nursing Society said US research showed 13,000 of 168,00 rape victims in 1991 were men.

Research needed

He said UK research was needed so that people knew how prevelent the crime was.

"Even if it is a small number, so what?" he said.

"Nursing has never been about quantity but about the quality of human life.

"Male rape can cause severe disability or disorder. People think Aids is the worst possible consequence when the risk is variable."

Richard Glaves, an RCN safety representative, said oral penetration was not classified as rape, but he believes it is "equally traumatic".

Many men were left doubting their sexuality, fearing sex and had difficulty forming relationships as a result of rape.

Rebecca Gray spoke of how a colleague had turned from a friendly outgoing person to a man who was afraid to leave his home after he was raped.

Due to the lack of resources for victims, he has moved to Australia.

"I have lost a good friend and the NHS has lost an extremely good nurse," she said.

Sal Porter, a nursing student, said male services as a whole needed to be urgently addressed.



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