The interconnections between armed conflict, Gender-Based Violence (GBV), and Congolese masculinities
This paper is derived from a study investigating the relationship between armed conflicts and the understanding of GenderBased Violence (GBV) among Congolese male refugees living in Durban, South Africa. The theories of hegemonic masculinity and social stigma informed this research. Hegemonic masculinity elucidates gender roles, inequality, power, and dominance. The concept of hegemonic masculinity is significant since it frames how socially created and collected conventional notions about dominant masculinities come about. This helps to grasp the stigmatizing culture surrounding GBV in the context of armed conflict. These theories help in linking masculine stigma and GBV, as well as how these connections may affect male survivors. The research used a qualitative approach that included thirty in-depth interviews with Congolese male refugees. It also used thematic analysis to generate the themes from the collected data. The results showed that war had played a significant role in how these men understood GBV. The findings reveal that armed conflicts motivated men to be more violent by promoting violent masculinities and creating a structure that encouraged male dominance at home and in society. The context of armed conflict reinforced power disparity between men and women, leading to increased sexual violence. Moreover, many men felt a sense of security when carrying an arm, which predisposed them to a culture centered on hyper-masculine ideals. The perpetrators also gang-raped men to take control of besieged communities, destabilize them, humiliate the victims, and incite unrest to spread fear and breach social taboos by raping men and boys to undermine the manhood of the victims. Men were emasculated through rape, which generated stigma among the victims, causing them to always feel less manly than their attackers. Men were humiliated everywhere as they became helpless creatures whose masculinities had lost their social meaning.