‘Sampson-Browne urges men to report cases of buggery’
MORE than 50 men have been raped in the past year, according to police reports. This was revealed recently by Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Margaret Sampson- Browne who is now in charge of the Victim and Witness Support Unit (VWSU) of the Police Service. But Sampson-Browne wants to spread the word that male victims of “sensitive crimes” such as rape and domestic violence can now report those crimes without fear of ridicule. “We want to engage our males, and to let them know if they are victims, they can come to us,” she told TnT Mirror in a telephone interview earlier this week. Research done by psychologists the world over suggests that most incidents involving the forceful rape of males are not reported, particularly if the perpetrator is another male. In the UK, researchers found that less than three percent of men reported a non-consensual sexual experience as adults and just about five percent of men reported sexual abuse as a child. These figures do not reflect the possibility of under-reporting. According to Wikipedia, recognition of male-on-male rape in law has historically been limited; the first successful prosecution for attempted male-on-male rape in the UK was not until 1995. Historically, male-on-male rape victims have suffered in silence due to the stigma men associate with being raped by other men. According to UK psychologist Dr. Sarah Crome, fewer than one in 10 male-male rapes are reported. As a group, male rape victims in the UK and in other countries suffer further victimisation due to a lack of services and support from legal systems. Here in Trinidad and Tobago, the VWSU is making strides in making it easier for all victims and witnesses of crime to come forward and report the crimes and even receive additional assistance such as counselling, without fear of further victimisation or – in the case of male victims dealing with embarrassing situations such as rape or domestic violence – ridicule at the hands of untrained or insensitive officers. In the past, reports of rapes or domestic violence by male victims in TnT were almost unheard of, yet there are few Trinbagonians who have not heard at least one joke about a man getting a good cut-tail from an irate wife or girlfriend. There is also evidence that rape involving both minors and adult male victims is prevalent in TnT. Interestingly, there are few female perpetrators (Mirror is aware of at least one case of a young adult male who reported being “raped” by a woman some years ago. He got a good ribbing from officers on duty.) There are several cases – some of them still before the courts – involving adult females having consensual sex with male minors. Even male minors have been subjected to ridicule in the past, although officers have generally been less cruel to victims in such cases, probably because they were dealing with minors. But with the creation of the VWSU in 2008 and subsequent expansion of the unit, such situations are becoming a thing of the past. While the expansion drive has not yet reached every single station in TnT, Sampson-Browne stressed that the unit is present “in every division, including Tobago, making it easier for the victim.” The retired Assistant Commissioner also wanted Mirror to note that a victim of a sensitive crime such as rape, who felt uneasy reporting the crime in the nearest station because he or she is well known in the community, can feel free to approach the unit at any division in TT.