A £500,000 fund to provide help, including counselling and advice, to male victims of rape and sexual violence is to be launched on Thursday.
The creation of the fund comes as the latest set of crime figures showed there were 2,164 rapes and sexual assaults against men and boys aged 13 or over recorded by the police in the 12 months to last November.
The crime survey for England and Wales estimates that there are as many as 72,000 male victims of sexual offences every year, whether they are reported to the police or not.
The victims minister, Damian Green, said the new fund would also help “historic victims” who were under 13 at the time. He said: “We believe around 12% of rapes are against men. Yet many choose not to come forward, either to report the crime or seek the support they need. I am determined to help break the silence on a subject still seen as a taboo.”
Green said the average sentences for male rape had increased but there was still more to do: “That is why we are toughening up sentencing and have introduced a mandatory life sentence for anyone convicted of a second very serious sexual or violent crime.”
Duncan Craig of Survivors Manchester, which specialises in helping male survivors of rape and sexual abuse, welcomed the new funding. He said: “In the past, there has not been enough support in the UK for male victims of sexual violence. But in the future I would like to see both the government and society begin talking more openly about boys and men as victims and see us trying to make a positive change to pulling down those barriers that stop boys and men speaking up. This funding will help to raise awareness of the issue and ensure that male victims are no longer ignored.”
The launch of the fund comes as the justice ministry starts a social media #breakthesilence campaign to encourage male victims to speak about their experiences. The Channel 4 teenage soap Hollyoaks recently featured a male rape storyline.