Burundi: Men too are targets of sexual violence

Thousands of Burundians sought safety abroad in 2015, amid the upheaval and violence surrounding President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third mandate. Fidèle* was one of them. One year later, as his employer pressures him to return to his job, he decides to come back home.

As he passes through Kayanza, a province in the north of the country, men dressed in civilian clothes stop his bus, go straight to him and order him to follow them. The bus leaves and the men start beating him up. They give him an injection, after which he loses consciousness. When he comes to, it is night, he is in a dark house, and in a lot of pain. He has been raped. The men come back and beat him up again, then give him another injection. He wakes up the following day at the same place where he had been abducted.

Fidèle has no choice but to flee Burundi again. Medical care helps with the pain, but he still suffers from regular dizziness that prevents him from working certain days. He attributes his symptoms to the injections his tormentors gave him.

The worst part though is the sexual violence, something that, as a man, he finds extremely difficult to come to terms with. Four years on, an overpowering sense of shame prevents him from interacting with people. What keeps him going is the hope that, one day, he can get justice and that those who wrecked his life receive punishment.

*Not his real name