About 1,350 males in Taiwan reported being victims of sexual assault last year, Ministry of Health and Welfare data showed.
Concern over sexual assault targeting males were raised last week when Tainan City Council members demanded a judicial investigation into accusations that city government deputy spokesman Yi Chun-hung (易俊宏) allegedly groped eight teenage boys and girls over a seven-year period.
Ministry data showed that assault cases involving male complainants averaged from 1,159 to 1,773 between 2016 and 2020, and numbered 1,350 last year.
About 80 percent of the cases were boys aged 12 to 18.
Traditional thinking leads people to neglect that men and boys can be victims of sexual assault, leading males to often not report or talk about their experiences, Taiwan Alliance for the Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare director Lin Yue-chin (林月琴) said.
Perpetrators of such assaults are often authority figures, making it difficult for victims to speak up, Lin said.
Males are often expected to be strong and can feel ashamed to admit to being sexual assault victims, creating additional barriers for boys and making it more difficult for them to seek help, likely resulting in many cases going unreported, said Taipei City Councilor Wang Chih-ping (汪志冰), who advocates for teen safety and gender equality issues.
“Sexual education courses in schools mostly instruct females on how to protect themselves,” she said, adding that Taiwanese society should also speak to males on this issue as well, given the nation’s progress on gender and LGBTQ issues.
“We must educate children and teens of all genders on how to protect themselves, and encourage them to speak up when they are harassed or assaulted,” she said.
It is wrong for people to believe that males are not affected by sexual assault and harassment, said Chang Hsiu-luan (張秀鴛), head of the Department of Protective Services at the health ministry.
“The ratio is high for underage male victims, likely due to teenagers not having proper guidance during their early teens, and they might think that an assault was not such a serious matter,” Chang said.
“Teenage victims could turn into perpetrators later in life,” in environments such as boarding schools, sports teams or youth care homes, she said.
Chang said that sexual education courses should deal more substantially with same-sex assaults, and that counselors and teachers should be provided training in dealing with such issues.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴) also spoke on the issue.
She said that most people still think of sexual assault in terms of female victims, and that crime prevention programs should also speak to protection for underage males.
Additional reporting by Jason Pan
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