Sexual Violence Against Boys & Men in Conflict Settings: The Men of Peace, Hope and Courage.

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About Alastair Hilton

Originally from England, Alistair Hilton has almost thirty years experience of social work and research in various settings. Inspired by personal experiences and professional ambivalence, in 1997 he became a founder member of the First Step project in Leicester in the UK, providing services to adult male survivors of sexual abuse. Now based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Alastair carried out the first focused research relating to the sexual abuse of boys in that country.


  1. Just wanted to comment that the winderful and amazing man in the photograph with me is Julius Okwera, the leader of the ‘Men of Courage’ from Northern Uganda. His inspiring story is shared in the RLP film ‘They Slept With Me’, mentioned in the article. It was a great privilege to meet him and his brothers from The Men of Hope and Men of Peace support groups.

    • When males and females were part of cultures of equality, we could enjoy being different, but equal. For most of human history we lived in these kinds of “partnership” cultures. But over the last 6,000 years or so, the world has become increasingly ruled by “dominator” cultures. In these kinds of cultures we become separate from the earth, separate from each other, and separate from ourselves. The healing begins when we tell the truth about the abuse and begin the healing with individuals, with families, and within our dominator culture to allow us to return our partnership roots.

  2. Alastair, thanks for sharing your experiences and those of the other men who are committed to ending sexual violence. As you say, sexual violence remains hidden and little discussed. Women are beginning to talk about their experiences and there are programs for women that address these problems. But male sexual violence gets little discussion. There are many reasons for that, but talking about it, and letting people know it exists is crucial. For many years, I’ve been treating men who have suffered from sexual abuse. Its not easy to talk about, but absolutely necessary if we are going to be able to reclaim our lives.

    When I wrote that male circumcision was abusive, few took it seriously. They said it was nothing compared to what happened to women. A female activist from north Africa said she never thought that
    male circumcision was anything like the abuse that occurred with female circumcision. “I changed my mind when I saw a circumcision performed on a little boy,” she said. “The screams were the same ones I heard from little girls. The same screams I remember when it happened to me.”

    Its time we recognized that physical and sexual abuse is not a gender issue, but a human issue.

    Thanks for your work and your willingness to show and tell the truth.

    • Thanks Jed for your kind and wise words. It would be so helpful one day if the word ‘gender’ was not used to divide us as human beings. I am sure it was never intended to be this way – what the hell happened?! But, changes are afoot… we will get there.

  3. Alastair, what a great piece. Thanks so much.

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