A huge rise in number of male rapes recorded in Tayside may just be the tip of the iceberg, a leading survivors’ charity has warned.
There have been seven recorded crimes of male rape in Dundee since April, up from just one throughout the whole of the 2018/19 reporting period.
There have been another six cases across the rest of Tayside this year, compared to four across the region in the last financial year.
All of the victims were over 16-years-old.
Sandy Brindley, chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland said the true extent of the problem may be much greater as crimes of sexual assault, against both male and female victims, are under-reported.
She said: “We would always caution against reading too much into statistics like these because what we know about rape and sexual assault is that it remains largely under-reported, regardless of gender.
“What that means is that these statistics don’t tell the whole story.
“Men experience many of the same barriers to women in speaking out, especially the fear of not being believed and of being blamed for the assault/s, but some are a bit different.
“The entirely unhelpful idea that men in our society should not be emotional or that they should ‘man-up’ if they are expressing vulnerability is really damaging and makes it much more difficult for men to seek specialist support.
“In some situations men may fear reporting or speaking about rape and sexual assault in case their sexuality is called into question, or if it means that they also have to tell people about their sexuality before they are ready.”
Ms Brindley added: “Any survivor of sexual violence should have access to specialist support at the point of need.
“The reality is across Scotland the demand higher than the capacity to provide support, which means that there are waiting lists.
“Our helpline is open everyday from 6pm to midnight to anyone – including men – affected by sexual violence and though we know it can be really hard to pick up the phone, it is so important for all victim-survivors to know that they are not alone.”
Police Scotland said they believe victims of sexual violence are now more confident about coming forward.
Detective Chief Iinspector Graham Binnie said: “Police Scotland takes every report of sexual crime very seriously and thorough investigations are carried out.
“Along with partner agencies, we encourage victims of sexual crimes to come forward and I believe that the increase is due to confidence among victims to report the matter to police. Sexual crimes have a life changing impact on the victims and we work closely with partner agencies to ensure they receive the necessary support required.”
Last year Coronation Street ran a highly-publicised storyline where a male character was drugged and raped.
It led to a huge increase in the number of male rape victims coming forward, with one charity, Male Survivor, reporting a 1,700% rise in the number of calls it received as a result.
Alison Sinclair, chief publicity manager for Coronation Street, said: “There was an increase in people contacting male survivor’s helpline.
Anecdotally we did hear from people saying they had been encouraged to come forward and our current non-recent male sexual abuse storyline is having a similar response.”