The Fight Against Forced Nudity & Sexual Violence | Fight for Equal Protection for Men | What Do International Laws Tell Us?

“Men can be victims too…Men also suffer from domestic abuse… especially verbal and emotional abuse… and may be even more ashamed to seek help…”

- Abused Men

Introduction

Whilst films and fiction might romanticize the idea of stealing from organized crime group (e.g. gangsters, mafia and triads), such act is never a good idea owing to the inherent hazards involved.

This was the case in Hong Kong with the recent attempt at by an individual with the surname Wong (along with four other accomplices) who allegedly attempted to rob an illegal gambling establishment.

Suffice it to say, Wong’s alleged attempt to rob the underground casino was botched and Wong himself was subsequently allegedly captured by members of allegedly from the Sun Yee On triad where he was forced to strip naked before cameras purportedly making a confession (under duress). Wong’s nude video subsequently went viral resulting in the police stepping in to investigate.

“Do you have any idea who you’re stealin’ from?! You and your friends are dead!”

- Ewan Yafrenzaded, Manager of Gotham National Bank in The Dark Knight

Wong’s incident sparked much discussion over traditional topics on the likes of controlling organized crimes in Hong Kong. However, it can be observed that the underlying issues related to the video such as ‘forced nudity’ or ‘sexual violence over men’ remain eerily silent. Had the gender of Wong been reversed, the reaction of the community might have been quite different.

The Situation

Sexual violence against men and boys remains largely hidden or ignored around the world. Such indifferences can be seen in the neglect in terms of recognition, resources and policy provision, despite being documented in nearly every corner around the world. The failure by society to adequately address the same will have profound consequences for the survivors – if left untreated, the impact can extend to the greater society.

It is trite law that much of Hong Kong’s sexual offence laws have failed to address the suffering of male victims. For example, section 118(3) of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200) (“CO”), which is the provision dealing with rape, only addresses unlawful sexual intercourse perpetrated by men against women:

“a man commits rape if:

(a) he has unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman who at the time of the intercourse does not consent to it; and

(b) at that time he knows that she does not consent to the intercourse or he is reckless as to whether she consents to it…

The maximum penalty is life imprisonment”.

Given the circumstances, under s.118 of the CO, the law in Hong Kong as it stands, meant that rape can only be committed by a man upon a woman. This is why, in Hong Kong, rape can only be committed by a male upon a female. Worse still, the existing law provides that penetration of a part of the victim’s body other than the vagina, does not amount to rape, nor does penetration of the vagina by an object or a part of the body other than a penis.

The Existing Law Downplays Sexual Violence Against Men

At present, male who are victims of sexual violence in the form of sexual violence against men can only find recourse under section 118B of the CO. Unlike the charge of rape, the charge under section 118B is downplayed to “assault with intent to commit buggery” with the maximum penalty being only 10 years’ imprisonment as opposed to life imprisonment, the maximum penalty for rape.

It is therefore the pivot of this publication that more action should be undertaken in order to address this serious issue in Hong Kong.

International Law Standards and Efforts

At the international level, we can see that there has been some attempts to provide a voice for male sexual violence victims. At times, this is attributed by the fact that issues of forced nudity is a more common occurrence in warzone. That said, it is also noteworthy that despite the fact that the Holocaust recorded significant violation of the dignity and sexual integrity of civilians in the aftermath of World War II, the Nuremberg and Control Council Law trials paid little attention to these harms.

After over half a century since the Holocaust, the United Kingdom’s sponsored United Nations Security Council Resolution 2106, which had been adopted in 2013, became the world’s first to explicitly mention men and boys as victims of sexual violence in conflict (“UNSC Resolution 2106”). Unfortunately, the UNSC Resolution 2106 fell far short of a call to action.

Still, UNSC Resolution 2106 was criticized to have still concentrated on women and girls only, being seen as ‘disproportionately’ affected by sexual violence, while providing only a tentative acknowledgement to men and boys. Men and boys are therefore omitted altogether from the operative paragraphs presenting the call for action.

It should however be stressed that the negative effects of sexual violence is not gender-based. Trauma will last whether the victim is a male or female. Unless the world wakes up to this issue, men will continue to be structurally discriminated against as victims.

Conclusion

“I am pretty far from okay…”

- Marsellus in Pulp Fiction

The acknowledgement of male sexual violence victim should not be treated as opposition to women. Rather, it is imperative for society to recognize that both men and women are traumatically affected. Going forward, Hong Kong should consider:

  1. adopting a more gender-balanced approach in respect of sexual violence-related legislation;
  2. having facilities to help both male and female victims of sexual violence; and
  3. being inclusive.

The authors would like to thank trainee solicitor Louis Cheung for bringing this crucial issue to the author’s attention.

Jurisdictions

Solicitor, ONC Lawyers

Joshua Chu is a Litigation Solicitor qualified to practice in Hong Kong. Before becoming a lawyer, Joshua worked in the healthcare industry serving as the IT department head at a private hospital as well as overseeing their procurement operations.

Since embarking upon his legal career, his past legal experience includes representing the successful party in one of Hong Kong’s first cryptocurrency litigation cases as well as appearing before the Review Body on Bid Challenges under the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement concerning a health care industry related tender.

Today, Joshua’s practice is mainly focused in the field of dispute resolution and technology law.

Aside from his legal practice, Joshua is currently also a Senior Consultant with a regulatory consulting firm which had been founded by ex-SFC Regulators as well as being a management consultant for the Korean Blockchain Centre.

Partner, ONC Lawyers

Michael Szeto is a litigation partner of ONC Lawyers and heads the firm’s Employment practice. Prior to joining the firm, he had practised with various prominent law firms in Hong Kong. He has many years of experience in handling complex commercial dispute resolution, shareholders’ and joint venture disputes, bankruptcy and insolvency matters, debt recovery and mortgagee actions. He also routinely deals with regulatory actions and compliance matters under the Securities and Futures Ordinance, the Hong Kong listing rules and anti-money laundering laws and guidelines.

On the employment side, Michael often advises on various contentious and non-contentious employment matters, covering contract reviews, termination disputes, injunctive relief, discrimination and harassment claims, data privacy matters, as well as advice on matters relating to team moves, remuneration packages and employee incentive schemes. He is a frequent author of employment articles in industry publications and presenter to legal and human resource professionals.

Michael’s broad clientele includes listed companies, directors, shareholders, local and overseas banks, financial institutions, local and international corporations as well as statutory bodies.