New research highlights risk and protective factors for physical and sexual violence perpetration

The Change Project – the P4P led multi-country study on understanding gender, masculinity and power to prevent gender-based violence in Asia and the Pacific – is producing emerging findings on men’s experiences, attitudes and use of violence against women that help to paint a more holistic picture of the issue and improve violence prevention interventions. The study consists of complementary qualitative, quantitative and political analysis research. The national quantitative studies are the first being completed. P4P and its partners have begun to use the preliminary findings to work with country-level partners to refine prevention strategies and inform policy. For example, in Cambodia, P4P is working with the local UN family and the inter-ministerial working group on GBV, to apply the findings to the drafting process of the country’s second National Action Plan to Address Domestic Violence. In Bangladesh the findings are being used to inform a violence prevention programme focused on adolescents now being formulated by UNFPA. The preliminary findings from the quantitative studies highlight factors strongly associated with men’s use of violence against women in a given setting, that include: men’s own experiences of child abuse, gender inequitable attitudes, alcohol and drug abuse, witnessing violence between parents, having transactional sex and being involved in fights with weapons. The research also found that men’s reports of perpetration of violence against women are comparable with, and sometimes higher, than women’s reports of victimization. For example, findings from Bangladesh have shown 52% of men reported using physical violence against an intimate partner, compared to 40-42% of women who reported experiencing physical partner violence in the WHO multi-country study (which was conducted in the same sites). Men surveyed also reported high rates of rape perpetration - up to one in five men in some countries. Significantly, across the region, nearly half of those who reported perpetrating rape did so for the first time when they were under the age of 20 years. Clearly, we must enhance the work being done with younger men and boys, to address rape and shift the underlying social norms and notions of masculinity that lead to sexual violence. The new data has also provided insight into why men perpetrate rape. Across the region, the number one reason for perpetration of rape came from a sense of sexual entitlement – a core belief that men had a right to women’s bodies - irrespective of consent. By comparison, alcohol – long considered a key driver of sexual violence – played less of a role in men’s motivations for rape. The data also highlights the prevalence and nature of men’s experiences of violence (particularly as children) – essential knowledge needed to develop effective prevention strategies. For example, 37% of men in urban Bangladesh, and 21% from rural areas, reported experiencing sexual abuse as a child. Across all countries, men’s experiences of child abuse significantly increased the risk that they would perpetrate violence against women later in life. This highlights the need to end violence against children and nurture safe and healthy family environments as part of GBV prevention. While some findings have been shown to be consistent across the region, such as the impact of childhood abuse, other specific risk and protective factors associated with violence perpetration vary across and even within countries, calling for site-specific interventions. The qualitative component of The Change Project re-enforces many of the quantitative findings, but adds the rich stories of men’s life trajectories. The research also highlights new avenues for promoting gender-equitable attitudes and behaviours – a core approach that will help to prevent GBV in the long-term. For example, in Aceh, the research points to potential for change by working with youth, within and outside of education institutions, to build gender equitable and non-violent notions of what it means to be a man. The research suggests that linking violence prevention programmes with on-going peace-building approaches, and working closely with religious leaders and institutions, can build momentum to promote alternative, non-violent masculinities across communities and the larger society. The preliminary quantitative regional findings from The Change Project will be shared at the Commission on the Status of Women meeting, in March, 2013. The regional analysis report will be released by mid- 2013. Qualitative and political analysis publications will be released on the P4P website over the next nine months. For more information about P4P’s regional research project, see: http://partners4prevention.org/sites/default/files/documents/leaflet_the_change_project_1.pdf or contact emma.fulu@one.un.org.

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