Men and boys who are victims of sexual assault, stalking and domestic violence are being urged to come forward under a fresh prosecution policy aimed at demolishing gender stereotypes.
In its first public statement to highlight the needs of male victims, the Crown Prosecution Service said that many men and boys never report that such crimes have happened.
Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, said: "The way society views masculinity can make it very difficult for men and boys who are the victims of sexual and domestic offences to come forward. This public statement formalises the CPS commitment to male victims and recognises that stereotypes of masculinity and femininity can, and do, feed sexist and homophobic assumptions. These can deter male victims from reporting abuse and pursuing a prosecution."
Saunders added: "The statement addresses this challenge and I hope it will create an environment that gives male victims increased confidence to come forward and get the justice they deserve."
The statement is also aimed at giving prosecutors more information so they are better able to understand the experiences of male victims and barriers to reporting offences. It forms part of the CPS's revised strategy to end violence against women and girls, which outlines its approach to all sexual violence crimes. The strategy has previously come under fire for its female-only title.
Saunders justified the name, saying: "The CPS, in line with the United Nations conventions, ratified by the government, recognises these crimes have a disproportionate number of female victims, hence the continued use of the term VAWG. However, the CPS also recognises the experience of male victims and the distressing impact on them."
Victims groups welcomed the initiative. The ManKind Initiative said described the announcement as a "landmark moment" for male victims of domestic abuse, stalking and forced marriage.
Survivors Manchester said that it would work with the CPS "to progress our collective understanding further across agencies" and that the statement would "make a real difference in the lives of boys and men".