Masculinity and male survivors of wartime sexual violence: a Bosnian case study

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While conflict-related sexual violence affects men and women, male survivors are often overlooked or marginalised. The case of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) is a poignant example. Twenty-two years after the Bosnian war ended, little attention has been given to the men who suffered diverse forms of sexual violence during the conflict. The present article contributes to addressing this gap. Based on semi-structured interviews with 10 men who endured the horrors of the Čelopek camp in north-east BiH, it focuses on the lives of these men today. Exploring the men’s silences and the intersection of their trauma with ongoing everyday problems, it goes beyond the commonly made argument that sexual violence against men constitutes an attack on masculinity. Fundamentally, it examines how masculinity norms and expectations have shaped the men’s stories, coping strategies, and current needs. This use of a masculinity lens highlights important gaps within transitional justice, which to date has narrowly focused on violent and militarised forms of masculinity. The article thus calls for transitional justice processes to give more attention to masculinities affected by violence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-311
Number of pages25
JournalConflict, Security and Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2017


  • Sexual violence
  • male survivors
  • BiH
  • Čelopek
  • masculinity
  • transitional justice


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