In a lonely place
Shrouded in myth and taboo, male sexual assault is under-reported and poorly researched. This month, the law in England and Wales is set to change to improve conditions for men who have been raped. Catherine Armitage explains the new law and takes a look at the medical, social, and psychological impact of male sexual assault
Sexual assault of men is often not reported and, as a consequence, poorly understood, but awareness that this crime is a worldwide problem is increasing. For example, in the past, male rape was not recognised as a criminal offence in England and Wales, and in 1995 only did changes in the law mean it became a recognised crime. Before this, no statistics had been collected on male sexual assault. In 1995, police recorded 150 cases nationally making male rape 2.9% of all rapes reported. This number rose to 735 (7.5%) of all rapes recorded in 2001-2.1 But police figures do not reflect the true prevalence of sexual assault on men--the crime is under-reported.
However, the law in England and Wales is changing. The Sexual Offences Bill received royal assent in November 2003 and may become law as early as this May. This is the most radical overhaul of legislation in