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Gender-based Violence

Gender-based Violence

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Published by Oxfam
This book brings together some of the most interesting and innovative work being done to tackle gender-based violence in various sectors, world regions, and socio-political contexts. Articles cover a wide range of manifestations of gender-based violence, including femicide, or the murder of women because they are women, domestic and sexual violence, female genital mutilation or cutting, the sexual exploitation of girls at school, and trafficking for prostitution. The case studies are drawn from South and East Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Central America, and a detailed list of resources completes the volume. This collection of articles will be useful to development and humanitarian practitioners, policy makers, and academics, including both gender specialists and non-gender specialists alike. Working in Gender & Development series bring together themed selections of the best articles from the Oxfam journal Gender & Development, supplemented with specially commissioned articles and material drawn from other Oxfam publications. Each title is edited by a key thinker in the field, and includes an up-to-the-minute overview of current thinking and thoughts on future policy responses.
This book brings together some of the most interesting and innovative work being done to tackle gender-based violence in various sectors, world regions, and socio-political contexts. Articles cover a wide range of manifestations of gender-based violence, including femicide, or the murder of women because they are women, domestic and sexual violence, female genital mutilation or cutting, the sexual exploitation of girls at school, and trafficking for prostitution. The case studies are drawn from South and East Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Central America, and a detailed list of resources completes the volume. This collection of articles will be useful to development and humanitarian practitioners, policy makers, and academics, including both gender specialists and non-gender specialists alike. Working in Gender & Development series bring together themed selections of the best articles from the Oxfam journal Gender & Development, supplemented with specially commissioned articles and material drawn from other Oxfam publications. Each title is edited by a key thinker in the field, and includes an up-to-the-minute overview of current thinking and thoughts on future policy responses.

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Published by: Oxfam on Apr 07, 2011
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08/17/2013

We have found that the process of helping individual men to construct an
alternative masculine identity is best carried out over a period of time, and
in conjunction with wider activities working towards equality and the
prevention of GBV. As participants begin to uncover and process the
violence in their daily lives and personal histories, we begin to see higher
levels of participation and self-motivation. Often, as men see this violence in
a new way, they become deeply engaged in the process of change.
Moving too fast can risk participant resistance. Another risk is the
pressure that participants can feel from men and women outside the
process, which can become an obstacle generating self-doubt and mistrust
of the motives of the organisation facilitating the process, and can lead to
men dropping out of the workshops. When friends, co-workers, or family
members begin to spread rumours or express doubts, participants may feel
shame, anger, and frustration, and run into problems with men in their
social circle, losing leadership and prestige.
Another risk is that activities with men’s groups can come to dominate
public activities relating to GBV prevention, reducing the importance, in the
public eye, of women’s organisations working to end GBV. It is important to
develop frameworks for continual feedback with women’s organisations,

94 Gender-Based Violence

to ensure that all groups working in this field are working towards common
goals. Raising self-awareness amongst men should never replace drives to
increase women’s empowerment, in terms of funding or leadership in
public spaces.

From a Latin American perspective, masculinities work with men
should avoid a purely rational, academic, or theoretical focus, even if
working with men with high levels of education. Our experience suggests
that an experiential, emotional, physical, and dynamic methodology is most
effective, bringing in a theoretical perspective after a period of time to
support participants’ individual experiences.

Conclusion

While the masculinities workshops have had a significant impact on the
attitudes and behaviour of individual men, which has affected their
interactions with others in their communities and workplaces, it is still too
early to gauge whether this programme has had any social impact at the
national level. There is a need for greater collaboration with other
organisations, and to develop deeper processes that allow men to continue
exploring and reconstructing their masculine identity, beyond the limited
scale of this programme.
When these efforts are linked to other processes of social transformation
and are supported, promoted, and respected by men, we can expect wider
changes in society, and can look to men as allies in the prevention of GBV
against women. The most significant impact should come from the
construction of a non-violent masculine identity and a cultural consensus in
which GBV is de-legitimised, and violence against women is reduced.
El Salvador has had many centuries of patriarchal socialisation where the
concept of who and what is powerful has modelled behaviours, attitudes
and ideologies, and so far, few men have been prepared to challenge this,
and explore alternative masculine identities. But those who are prepared to
do so should be supported, for the principle of changing men from
perpetrators to preventers of GBV against women has great possibilities.

This article was originally published in Gender & Development, volume 15,
number 1, March 2007.

Constructing an alternative masculine identity 95

References

Ferguson, H., J. Hearn, Gullvag Holter, L. Jalmert, M. Kimmel, J. Lang and R. Morrell
(2004), Ending Gender-based Violence: A Call for Global Action to Involve Men,
Stockholm: Sida.
Madrigal, L. J. (2006) ‘Masculinities: hopes to change’, in Celebrating Changes: Exploring
Quality and Equity of Diakoniain the Church, Geneva: World Council of Churches.
Madrigal, L. J. and W. Tejeda (2003) Compartiendo de Nuestro Pan: Una Experiencia de
Trabajo con Hombres en el Área de la Masculinidad, Guadalajara, Mexico: Ediciones
Encuentro.
Welsh, P. (2001) Men aren´t from Mars: Unlearning Machismo in Nicaragua, London:
Catholic Institute for International Relations.

Notes

1 Gender-based violence (GBV) is considered to be any act of violence sustained
by an individual as a result of her or his gender status. GBV can of course
affect both women and men, but for the purposes of this article we are
focusing on GBV against women.
2 ‘Machismo’ is the belief in male hegemony over women and other men,
played out with physical force, control, and violence. A macho man is a man
who reflects these characteristics.

96 Gender-Based Violence

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