On their long journey to Europe, male migrants are almost as routinely raped and abused as women, a study by the Women's Refugee Commission (WRC) released on Monday has found.
Migrants routinely face rape and sexual torture, the graphic study, based on dozens of interviews with migrants and aid workers, has found.
It is in Libya, from where some migrants try to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, that a lot of sexual abuse takes place, the study claimed.
Migrants who cannot cross the sea are put in detention centres by the Libyan coastguard where they then face more abuse, it added.
They are filmed while tortured and the footage can be used to demand payments to their family, the study says, adding the danger of sexual abuse is nearly as high for males than it is for female migrants.
According to the study, migrants are also being sexually exploited in Italy.
The study says that "sexual violence perpetrated against migrants on their journey includes sexual torture, genital violence and castration, and forcing men and boys to rape others – including family members and corpses – as well as lethal sexual violence".
"Refugees and migrants are exposed to sexual violence throughout the course of their journey from fleeing home, during the crossing of the Sahel, to being held in Libya, where they face harrowing conditions, and even onto Italy – for the few that make it that far – where for some the cycle of violence continues," a statement on the Women's Refugee Commission website read.
“Our findings are deeply disturbing,” said Dr Sarah Chynoweth, who led the research and works as a sexual violence project director and consultant for WRC.
“Sexual violence against female and male refugees and migrants appears to be widespread along the migration route, particularly in Libya, where profoundly cruel and brutal sexual violence and torture are perpetrated in official detention centres and clandestine prisons, during random stops and checkpoints, and in the context of forced labour and enslavement. The fact that refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean are intercepted and forced back into this violence is untenable.”