Global Masculinities: Interrogations and Reconstructions 9781138234710, 9780367001919, 9780429423468

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Global Masculinities: Interrogations and Reconstructions
 9781138234710, 9780367001919, 9780429423468

Table of contents :
Half Title
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
Lists of figures
List of tables
List of contributors
Foreword by Raewyn Connell
Foreword by Abhijit Das
Preface by Rimjhim Jain
Introduction: engaging global masculinities
Emergence and development of critical masculinity studies
The predicament of patriarchal masculinities
Caring masculinities
1. Making men: the cultural politics of male initiation rites in South Africa
Becoming a man
Respect and humanity
Xhosa male initiation
The purpose of male initiation
Discussing initiation in the twenty-first century
Concluding remarks
2. Social norms, social structure and law in Nepal: patriarchy, violence against women and the three-headed hydra
Social norms: persistence of old stereotypes
Internalisation of patriarchal social norms: women and transgender subjects
Social norms, masculinities and sexuality
Social norms and contradictory masculine identities
Law and custom: in between spaces
Social structure and limitations of law
Law, social norms and discrimination
Social norms, law and social structure: public and private domains
Conclusion: patriarchy and violence against women
3. Transforming masculinities as a contribution to conflict prevention?
Masculinities as drivers of conflict
Putting theory into practice: masculinities and peacebuilding programmes
Challenges and question marks
Gendering conflict analysis
Selecting participants and developing theories of change
Gendered structures and institutions
Working to scale
Working with the security sector
The international angle
Responding to legitimate grievances
Maintaining a feminist perspective
List of abbreviations
4. Masculinity and violence against women: exploring the practices of young men in Bangladesh
Methodology Methods and data analysis
Recurrent themes
Bhalo meye/baje meye (Good girl/Bad girl)
Moja kora (Having fun)
Piche ghura (Following/Stalking)
Kotha shuna (Controlling mechanism)
Shikkha dewa (Revenge)
Annex 4.A
Annex 4.B
5. Beyond male role models: gender identities and work with young men in the UK
Questioning the male role model discourse
Research objectives and methodology
Key messages
Policy and practice implications
6. Interpersonal neurobiology and the prevention of gender-based violence
Conclusion and next steps
7. Masculinities, faith and ending gender-based violence in the African Great Lakes region, Africa
Research objectives
Country profiles
Understanding men, faith and masculinities
What can be done?
8. Engaging men in ending men’s violence against women: beyond the mantras and towards more effective practice
Approach to engaging men
9. Involving men in sharing the contraceptive burden: experiences from a community intervention with men in Madhya Pradesh, India
Contraception and women’s rights
Family Planning Programme in India: the role of men
The ‘Sajhedar initiative’
Family planning and use of contraceptives
Spacing between children
Access to contraceptives – facilitating the interface between
service providers and men
Improved relationships between spouses
Changing social norms that give women more autonomy
10. The role of male Dais (Huarku) in childbirth in a tribal block in the Nandurbar district of Maharashtra, India
The study area and people
Who were the huarka (Dais)?
The Dai tradition in this area
A gendered style of caring
Paapi Nazar (sinful gaze) . . .
The huarka (Dais) and formal healthcare providers
The sets of Dais’ practices
Reflections of the other providers on care by the Dais
View of the future and expectations
11. Opportunities and challenges for promoting new concepts of fatherhood in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Methodological aspects of quantitative research
Methodological aspects of qualitative research
Results from quantitative research
Results from qualitative research
12. Migrating males and gender role exchange: a study on how Indonesian males perceive their masculinities through caregiving activities
The study
Gender discourses in contemporary Indonesia
Gender relations and overseas education
Caring, breadwinning and masculinities
13. A Brazilian policy toward men’s healthcare and gender equity
A brief introduction to the Brazilian Healthcare System
The origin of the PNAISH
Pnaish’s implementation
Some of PNAISH’s obstacles
Men’s health, fatherhood, care and gender equity

Citation preview


What does it mean to be male in today’s world? This volume interrogates the myriad practices and myth-making that underlie dominant and subordinate constructions of masculinities around the world. Challenging the patriarchal bias that restricts alternative understanding of masculinities, this volume documents and shares evidence, insights and direction on how men and boys can creatively contribute to gender equality in the twenty-first century. The book: • • •

highlights the many lives of men and their interactions with socioeconomic and political processes, including the family, fatherhood, migration, development and violence; critiques hegemonic masculinities, and grapples with effective practices that engage men in the empowerment of women; explores how cultures of masculinity can be transformed to promote social justice, conflict-resolution and peace-building within and across nations.

The book will be indispensable to researchers interested in critical masculinity studies, women’s studies, sociology, social anthropology, law, public policy, political science and international relations. It will also be of great relevance to government officials, NGO activists, and other practitioners concerned with gender, health and development issues. Mangesh Kulkarni teaches political science at Savitribai Phule Pune University, India, and has been an ICCR Chair Professor at universities in Vienna (2011) and Leipzig (2017). His publications include three edited volumes – Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Political Theory (2011), India in World Affairs (1999), Politics in Maharashtra (1995) – and A Terrorist of the Spirit (1992) – jointly translated Marathi poems of V. A. Dahake. He is an International Advisory Editor of the journal Men and Masculinities (New York), and a Founder Member of the Forum to Engage Men (New Delhi). He has received several academic awards including a Research Grant of the Rockefeller Archive Center (2004) and an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship of the European Commission (2009). Rimjhim Jain is a gender rights activist working with the Centre for Health and Social Justice, New Delhi, India. As Programme Manager in the men and gender equality team, she coordinates networks and projects for working with men in several Indian states. She is leading the rollout of the national campaign EkSaath to engage men and boys in changing gender discriminatory social norms, and manages the organisation’s Resource Centre on masculinities and gender aimed at strengthening a global community of men’s work practitioners. Earlier, she was a professional television and print news journalist and then a communications consultant in the social development sector. She has also co-authored media manuals for UN organisations on HIV/AIDS and child labour.

The collection is part of a recent upsurge of interest in global research on masculinity, closely linked with the spread of activism for gender reform. It brings together a very wide range of experiences including communities and groups from Africa, south and south-east Asia, south America, southern and northern Europe. Raewyn Connell, Professor Emerita, University of Sydney, Australia This important collection provides a genuinely global take on masculinities and their effect on social life. The combination of contributions by both academics and practitioners significantly serves to engender an approach to real-world problems that is neither abstract theorising nor simplistic description. Sanjay Srivastava, Professor of Sociology, Institute of Economic Growth, University of Delhi, India

GLOBAL MASCULINITIES Interrogations and Reconstructions

Edited by Mangesh Kulkarni


First published 2019 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an Informa business © 2019 selection and editorial matter, Centre for Health and Social Justice; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Mangesh Kulkarni and Rimjhim Jain to be identified as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record has been requested for this book ISBN: 978-1-138-23471-0 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-367-00191-9 (pbk) ISBN: 978-0-429-42346-8 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by Integra Software Services Pvt. Ltd.

We humbly dedicate this volume to all the women around the world who have pioneered feminist approaches and thinking, whose work guides us and shows us the way to engage in efforts for building a just, violence-free society. We honour their struggles, sacrifices and commitment, which have enabled us to stand on their shoulders and look ahead at a vision of gender equality, human rights and social justice

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Lists of figures List of tables List of contributors Foreword by Raewyn Connell Foreword by Abhijit Das Preface by Rimjhim Jain Acknowledgments Introduction: engaging global masculinities Mangesh Kulkarni

ix x xii xv xxi xxiv xxvii 1

1 Making men: the cultural politics of male initiation rites in South Africa Nolwazi Mkhwanazi


2 Social norms, social structure and law in Nepal: patriarchy, violence against women and the three-headed hydra Sanjeev Uprety


3 Transforming masculinities as a contribution to conflict prevention? Hannah Wright


4 Masculinity and violence against women: exploring the practices of young men in Bangladesh Shashish Shami Kamal




5 Beyond male role models: gender identities and work with young men in the UK Sandy Ruxton, Martin Robb, Brid Featherstone and Michael R.M. Ward 6 Interpersonal neurobiology and the prevention of gender-based violence Baron Oron and Alice Welbourn



7 Masculinities, faith and ending gender-based violence in the African Great Lakes region, Africa Prabu Deepan and Lizle Loots


8 Engaging men in ending men’s violence against women: beyond the mantras and towards more effective practice Michael Flood


9 Involving men in sharing the contraceptive burden: experiences from a community intervention with men in Madhya Pradesh, India Sana Contractor, Shreeti Shakya, Satish Kumar Singh and Mahendra Kumar


10 The role of male Dais (Huarku) in childbirth in a tribal block in the 158 Nandurbar district of Maharashtra, India Sneha Baldeo Makkad and Mira Sadgopal 11 Opportunities and challenges for promoting new concepts of fatherhood in Bosnia and Herzegovina Srđjan Dušanić 12 Migrating males and gender role exchange: a study on how Indonesian males perceive their masculinities through caregiving activities Valentina Yulita Dyah Utari



13 A Brazilian policy toward men’s healthcare and gender equity Eduardo Schwarz and Daniel Costa Lima





2.1 Sampling 2.2 If a girl beats up a man or humiliates him publicly, its takes away from his manhood 2.3 Men are naturally aggressive 2.4 Men are by nature sexually polygamous/tend to have more than one sexual partner 2.5 A boy/man can have a clandestine affair with several girls simultaneously 2.6 A man/boy can pay for sex or go to a sex worker to gain experience in making love. Meanwhile, a girl/woman cannot pay for having sex with others 2.7 (a) It is okay for a boy/man to have a sexual relationship with girls before marriage (b) It is okay for a girl/woman to have sexual relationships with boys/men before marriage 6.1 The triangle of mental health well-being 7.1 Percentage of participants who agreed with the statement: a woman’s most important role is to take care of her home and cook for her family 7.2 Percentage of participants who believe women have no right to refuse sex with their husbands 9.1 Perceptions of men about sexual relationships and family planning 9.2 Use of contraception among married male respondents in both districts 9.3 Proportion of first births taking place two years after marriage 9.4 Self-reported changes in men’s participation in different household chores

25 27 28 29 30


31 103

120 123 147 148 149 151


4.1 Conceptualising violence against women based on the policy settings of Bangladesh 4.2 Respondents who texted, called or harassed women as a form of ‘Having Fun’ 4.A.1 Residential Halls (Male) 4.B.1 Self-reported class 4.B.2 Age 4.B.3 School background 4.B.4 College background 4.B.5 Having fun 4.B.6 Stalking 4.B.7 Revenge 4.B.8 Control 6.1 Mindsight and related exercises 7.1 Attitudes toward statements about men as decision-makers 7.2 Acceptance of physical intimate partner physical violence 7.3 Attitudes toward statements about sexual violence 9.1 Sociodemographic profile of male respondents 9.2 Changes in girls’ education and age at marriage 11.1 Characteristics of the sample 11.2 Sociodemographic characteristics of the interviewed men 11.3 The role of man in domestic duties 11.4 Attitudes toward men’s involvement and satisfaction of men and women with division of household duties 11.5 Men’s presence during birth of last child 11.6 Men’s and women’s report about men’s accompaniment during prenatal visits (for at least one) 11.7 Did the man take parental leave during birth of his last child?

68 72 77 78 78 78 78 79 79 79 79 104 122 125 126 146 152 182 184 185 185 186 186 187


11.8 11.9 11.10 11.11

Men’s and women’s reports about men’s daily care of the children Men’s and women’s reports about men’s care of children under 5 Gender attitudes Categories of men, related to gender equality on GEM scale


187 188 189 189


Sana Contractor is a public health researcher who holds a master’s degree in

public health and is currently Programme Manager in the Centre for Health and Social Justice, New Delhi, India. Raewyn Connell is Professor Emerita, University of Sydney, Australia. Prabu Deepan works as Tearfund’s gender technical lead for gender-based

violence prevention and peace building initiatives. Abhijit Das is Director of the Centre for Health and Social Justice, Co-Chair at

MenEngage Global Alliance and Convenor of the 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium, New Delhi, India. Srđjan Dušanić works as an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy in

the University of Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Brid Featherstone teaches at the School of Human and Health Sciences,

University of Huddersfield, UK. Michael Flood is an Associate Professor at the Queensland University of Tech-

nology (Brisbane, Australia), and a researcher, educator and activist. Shashish Shami Kamal is a lecturer in the Department of Development Studies

at Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP), Dhaka, and was previously with the Centre for Men and Masculinities Studies and the Centre for Policy Dialogue in Bangladesh.



Mahendra Kumar works as Programme Manager in the Centre for Health and

Social Justice, New Delhi, India, and is a trainer and community mobiliser on gender and masculinities. Daniel Costa Lima is a psychologist with a master’s degree in public health who

works as an independent consultant in Brazil and internationally on gender, masculinities, fatherhood and care, and gender-based violence prevention. Lizle Loots is an independent consultant based in South Africa. Sneha Baldeo Makkad is an MPhil Research Scholar at the Centre for Women’s

Development Studies, New Delhi. Nolwazi Mkhwanazi is a medical anthropologist based at the Wits Institute for

Social and Economic Research (WISER), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Baron Oron is Director of Network for Stepping Stones Approaches (NESSA),

Center for Communication, Peace building and Prosperity, Kampala, Uganda. Martin Robb is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Languages at The Open University, UK. Sandy Ruxton is an independent consultant based in Oxford, UK. Mira Sadgopal who was Principal Investigator of the Jeeva Project has been active in the women’s health movement in India. Eduardo Schwarz is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist with a master’s

degree in policy and management in health, working as an independent consultant in Brazil on masculinities, gender and health. Shreeti Shakya holds a post graduate degree in social work and is a researcher at

the Centre for Health and Social Justice, New Delhi, India. Satish Kumar Singh is Additional Director, Centre for Health and Social Justice,

New Delhi, India, and has been working on issues of gender, masculinities, health and sexuality. Sanjeev Uprety teaches at the Central Department of English, Tribhuvan Uni-

versity, Kathmandu, Nepal. Valentina Yulita Dyah Utari is working as a researcher at the SMERU Research

Institute, Jakarta, Indonesia.



Michael R.M. Ward is Lecturer in Social Science, Swansea University, UK. Alice Welbourn is Founding Director of the Salamander Trust, London, UK and

has been working on international gender and health issues. Hannah Wright is a doctoral candidate at the London School of Economics and

Political Science (LSE) Department of Gender Studies and a Researcher at the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security, UK.

FOREWORD Raewyn Connell

This collection of studies of men, masculinities and change comes from the second MenEngage global symposium Men and Boys for Gender Justice, held in New Delhi in November 2014. The collection is part of a recent upsurge of interest in global research on masculinity, closely linked with the spread of activism for gender reform. In this activism the MenEngage alliance itself is a major force. It is now widely recognised that gender relations and gender practices are not confined to the domestic sphere. Gender divisions of labour and gender inequalities in income and ownership are found in farm villages, factories and offices, and shape whole economies. Gender ideologies are proclaimed in churches and temples, are spread through television and the social media. Power in governments is mainly held by men, and the top levels of power in big corporations are almost entirely held by men. It is not surprising, then, that patterns of masculinity are involved in major problems of the contemporary world. Easiest to recognise is the prevalence of violence, especially gender-based violence. The fact that masculinities oriented to dominance, aggression and men’s privilege over women are implicated in rape, domestic violence and sexual harassment is well documented. Gender relations and patterns of masculinity also shape men’s violence towards men, including violence towards homosexual men, and very common forms of violence among men involving masculinity challenges or competitions for prestige. Violence occurs not only at the interpersonal level, but also at the collective, institutional and societal levels. Masculinities are deeply involved in war: in holding armies together under the insensate violence of combat, in politicians’ rhetoric justifying wars (violence in defence of national ‘honour’), and in making it possible for generals and marshals to send younger men to dismemberment and death. In my country, Australia, there is still a rhetoric in the mouths of otherwise sane politicians who proclaim that Australia ‘came of age’ at Gallipoli in 1915, as



if involvement in a military catastrophe on the other side of the world was no more than a happy initiation ritual among men. Modern wars are environmental as well as human catastrophes. The ruthless masculinity of the generals is well matched by the managerial masculinity in corporations that has organised the pillage of our land and sea environment as well as the pollution of the atmosphere that is producing global warming. The decision-makers at Australia’s largest corporation managed to poison an entire river system in Papua New Guinea a generation ago (the Ok Tedi mine disaster); and recently have done the same thing again, though on a smaller scale, in Brazil. Wherever we look at the pinnacles of global power, we see groups of men who are not just persons-with-male-bodies but members of masculinised institutions, subcultures and networks that sustain their privilege and their capacity to dominate others. I recently drew up a map of global power-holders, identifying four main groups: the corporate managers, the oligarchs (personal billionaires), the dictators and the neoliberal state elites (Connell 2016a). They differ from each other in their institutional bases, but in all four groups there is an overwhelming preponderance of men and a strongly masculinised culture of entitlement. Donald Trump – serial harasser, misogynist and bully – is entirely part of this pattern. He is exceptional only in his route to political power and his ignorance of what it involves. None of this is exactly secret. For the last generation, many researchers have probed into the dynamics of masculinity. Among their most important findings are that there is no single pattern of masculinity. Different communities construct masculinity differently. In multicultural societies there are multiple understandings of masculinity. What “being a man” means in working-class life is different from its meaning in middle-class life, not to mention the very rich and the very poor. Equally important, more than one pattern of masculinity can be found within a given cultural setting, such as a workplace, village or peer group. Different masculinities do not sit side-by-side as alternative lifestyles; there are definite relations between them. Typically, some masculinities are more honoured, more central, more authoritative, than others. Where this authority is connected to the overall subordination of women to men, we can speak of ‘hegemonic masculinity’. Some masculinities are socially marginalised, for example the masculinities of indigenous peoples in settler colonies. Some are exemplary, taken to symbolise admired traits, for example the masculinities of sporting heroes. Masculinities exist both at the collective and individual levels. They are defined collectively in workplaces, as shown in industrial research; in the mass media; and in informal groups like street gangs, as shown in criminological research. Organised sport shows how a competitive hegemonic masculinity can be created by the pattern of competition, the system of training and the steep hierarchy of rewards. Images of this version of masculinity are circulated on an enormous scale by the mass media. Masculinities come into existence as people act. They are not a biologically fixed background to our social arrangements, but part of the everyday making of social life. This insight throws light on the relation between masculinities and violence. Violence is not inherent in men; rather, it is a way masculinity can be



constructed, and masculine prestige achieved, in a cultural context that validates aggression. From bodybuilders in the gym, to managers in the boardroom, to boys in the school playground, a great deal of effort goes into the making of masculinities. Ethnographic and historical research reveals different masculinities in different cultures and historical epochs, and from this we know that masculinities are able to change. Historians have traced such changes, and surveys give signs of contemporary change in the differences between generations in their gender attitudes. All patterns of masculinities come into existence through time, and may in time be contested, transformed or replaced. There is an active politics of gender in everyday life. Sometimes this finds spectacular public expression in large-scale events and social movements. More often it is local and limited. But there is always a process of contestation and change; and in some cases this becomes conscious and deliberate. Once researchers had got beyond the very simplified idea of a ‘male sex role’, publications about the gender of men strongly emphasised the multiplicity of masculinities. The idea of diversity in versions of masculinity is still important. It is now often phrased in terms of the ‘intersectionality’ of gender with race, class, religion, sexuality and so forth. It may also be framed at an international or intercultural level. Thus researchers emphasise the distinctiveness of Chinese cultural meanings of masculinity compared with European, or the multiple forms of masculinity found within Africa. This is valuable in documenting social realities, and necessary to prevent the wild overgeneralisation about a true essential masculinity that was common in earlier times. But emphasis on diversity alone can lead to a fragmented view of gender. Recognising that, researchers have become more concerned about the relations between different patterns of masculinity, and the structures that produce those relations. Thinking on a world scale, the key issues here concern the power structures of imperialism, the processes of colonisation, and the huge inequalities of wealth and power in the neoliberal global economy. Gender research itself is affected by these structures. Its methods and concepts are, for the most part, those developed in the global North, i.e. western Europe and north America. Not surprisingly, they reflect the social experience and cultural assumptions of the wealthy societies that hold a privileged position in the global economy. As I have argued in a recent reflection on the idea of hegemonic masculinity (Connell 2016b), the Eurocentrism of global gender discourse injects into gender analysis everywhere the image that the society of the global North holds of itself. This image presumes coherence and a self-sustaining logic for any gender order. Eurocentric research and policymaking typically assume that gender has a systemlike character, a logical homogeneity, and if a gender order changes, it does so with continuity in time. But this can’t be assumed for the conditions created by colonial conquest, or by the continued massive disruption of cultures, economies and gender orders in many parts of the post-colonial world.



It is very important, then, that we have as rich a documentation as possible of the experiences of men and the practices of masculinity in post-colonial societies as well as the global metropole. That is one of the virtues of this book: it brings together a very wide range of experiences including communities and groups from Africa, south and south-east Asia, south America, southern and northern Europe. Another virtue of this book is that it places the research in direct connection with activism. That was implicit in the book’s origin, since the global symposium in Delhi was precisely a meeting-place for activists, policymakers and researchers. Recognition of the social problems and inequalities in which masculinities are implicated has been motivating action for more than a generation, in a variety of forms. The most visible, initially, was the activism of social movements, particularly feminist and gay liberation movements. It wasn’t hard in the 1970s to see that social advancement for women held large implications for men and their gender patterns. The truly remarkable Indian government report, Towards Equality: Report of the Committee on the Status of Women in India (1974), should be better known internationally. Though it was careful to write explicitly about ‘the status of women’, the report had a lot to say implicitly about men, their attitudes, conduct, privileges and gender ideologies (though not, sadly, about violence). A lot of other feminist writing and activism in that generation considered men and masculinity either directly or by implication. Similarly, advancing the rights and the safety of homosexual men was quickly seen to have implications for heterosexual men and forms of masculinity. Since then, there have been many social movements that have tried to mobilise men to work for gender equality and support feminist causes. This is difficult terrain to work on, as it works against men’s collective advantages in gender relations. But there have been persistent efforts, for instance to mobilise men against gendered violence, or in favour of engaged fatherhood and more sharing of household work. These movements lie behind some of the studies in this book. The report Towards Equality was funded by, and addressed to, the Indian national government, and envisaged sweeping reforms in laws and services such as education and health. Governments have long been concerned with shaping and reshaping the gender order – that was a major concern of the colonial state. It is not hard to see how post-colonial states have continued to affect the lives of men: in laws about marriage, in making war and weapons, in promoting contraception (or criminalising it), in expanding education, in reshaping economies. The state is an arena often underplayed in gender research, especially the kind that emphasises discourse and identities. The studies in this book give good reason to consider closely the possibilities, and the limits, of action by the state. Much contemporary activism is organised through NGOs, a situation reflected in this book and in the MenEngage network itself. There are problems in this form of activism, well explored in feminist debates about similar developments in women’s activism. Dependence on donor funding or state funding influences the issues taken up and sets limits to what is attempted, especially where accountability requirements become important. The fact that



NGO programmes are so often called ‘interventions’ suggests problems about where the initiatives come from and how much popular control there really is. Yet this is so central a form of contemporary activism that it is important to consider its strengths and weaknesses, and the studies reported here give useful information for this. Of course, there are other forms of activism. Among them are cultural struggles around images, concepts and ideologies of masculinity, in sites such as mass media and churches. Work in schools and universities remains important; so does work in health professions and social welfare. All forms of contemporary activism around masculinities and gender equality face problems. One, much discussed, is how to ‘scale up’ successful small-scale programmes. A second is the vulnerability of gender reform work to fads and nostrums, a problem I see a lot in the education field. A third is the ramifying effects of economic inequalities, including the greater resources of movements and governments in the global North. A fourth problem, which needs more attention, is the role of counter-powers in undermining gender equity work. Some of this is explicitly anti-feminist or anti-queer, such as the campaign against ‘gender theory’ currently being mounted by far-right Catholic organisations internationally. (By ‘gender theory’ they basically mean the idea that gender patterns can change, especially that gender divisions should become less.) Some is not explicitly reactionary but has reactionary effects, such as the biomedical establishment’s attempt to take over men’s health programmes and AIDS prevention strategies (substituting drugs for social change and women’s empowerment). In a historical moment when displays of aggressive masculinity have gained power for figures like Trump in the USA and Duterte in the Philippines, while the authoritarian patriarchies of Putin and Xi consolidate themselves, it is difficult to be confident about the future of gender equity policies. Ground can be lost as well as won; the new Republican Party regime in the USA clearly intends to roll back women’s abortion rights, public healthcare and the rights of sexual and gender minorities. It is important, then, to recognise and acknowledge the change that has already happened. Forty years ago, the idea of a global gathering of groups concerned with men’s role in gender change was unimaginable. In education and in health there have already been great gains for gender equality, driven by women’s movements but involving cooperation and support from very large numbers of men. It is now widely understood that gender patterns, including masculinities, are able to change. In that respect we have passed an important historical horizon. None can doubt that struggles ahead will be hard. But they can be won.

References Committee on the Status of Women in India. 1974. Towards Equality: Report of the Committee on the Status of Women in India. New Delhi: Government of India, Ministry of Education



& Social Welfare, Department of Social Welfare. [Officially December 1974, actually published 1975]. Connell, Raewyn. 2016a. 100 million Kalashnikovs: Gendered power on a world scale. Debate Feminista, 51, 3–17. Also published online, in English and Spanish, June 2016, Open Access at: Connell, Raewyn. 2016b. Masculinities in global perspective: Hegemony, contestation, and changing structures of power. Theory and Society, 45, 4, 303–318. 10.1007/s11186-0169275-x.

FOREWORD Abhijit Das

It gives me tremendous satisfaction to write the opening statement for this volume. It was sometime in the month of April 2012 that Gary Barker, Dean Peacock and I met at Geneva to discuss the possibility of holding the 2nd global symposium of MenEngage in Delhi. Gary and Dean were then the Co-Chairs of the global MenEngage alliance and together we were seeking ways of consolidating the strategy of working with men on gender issues as a credible and necessary approach towards achieving gender and social justice. Gary and his organization Promundo in Brazil had very successfully organised the First Global Symposium on Engaging Men and Boys in Achieving Gender Equality in Rio de Janeiro in March 2009. This gathering had brought together 400 delegates and had been successful in establishing the need for engaging with men and boys in genderrelated development work particularly around Sexual and Reproductive Health including HIV and AIDS, Violence Against Women including Sexual Violence and Exploitation and also starting discussion on issues like Fatherhood and Caregiving. This gathering was followed by a gathering organised by Sonke Gender Justice with Dean Peacock at the helm, in Johannesburg in October of 2009 to look at ways NGOs and Government could work with men and boys on the issues of gender-based violence and HIV in Africa. In our discussions we felt that we needed to move further ahead with the agenda. We no longer saw working with men and boys as a development approach, but we were convinced it had to be part of achieving all round social justice. We felt that our conversations had to be first with feminists and with other social justice activists. I can clearly remember our discussions, particularly those on the promontory of Bains des Paquis, overlooking Lake Geneva, where we discussed how we could make the 2nd global symposium more meaningful not only to those who worked on development but for social justice activists across the world. We also felt that we needed to find opportunities which allowed practitioners, who were not the most



adept to share their work in a written form, to share their work, allowing others to derive lessons. I was trained as a doctor and my clinical practice in the 1980s and 90s was mostly around what I had learnt in obstetrics and gynaecology. Working closely with women in rural India I became very interested in the social situation underlying women’s health conditions and their ability to seek treatment. This made me more and more interested in gender issues. The new formulation of ‘reproductive health’ which had emerged since the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo (ICPD 1994) provided a framework for the work I was involved in. Being a man, it soon became obvious that women alone could not be given the burden to reverse the gender inequalities that led to many of their health conditions, and this was a recommendation of the ICPD Program of Action as well. My female friends and colleagues welcomed our work with men but kept us on our toes in terms of examining whether it really led towards gender equality or ended up as men’s paternalistic control of women which looked benign but was equally strong. This healthy scepticism of feminist friends was what pushed me to interrogate both our approaches and results more closely and soon I was doing what could be called sociological research. Since then I have been a strong votary for the practitioner to explore the conceptual underpinnings of their own work and reflect upon the processes and results to draw lessons, not leaving the process of knowledge making to the academics alone. For me the 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium was an opportunity to make this process of practitioner-based knowledge-making more collective and systematic. Since working with men and boys on gender issues continues to still be an evolving arena it was a challenge which we took without much trepidation. We were extremely lucky to receive the whole-hearted support of leading feminists and women’s organisations in India in putting together the symposium and its discussions. However, one concern was how to ensure that the 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium and its lessons did not remain confined to an event, but could actually energise the field both practically and conceptually beyond the four days in November 2014 that the event was organised in New Delhi. This book is one of the principal ways in which we have tried to fulfil the twin agenda of practitionerbased knowledge-making and of energising the field. The Symposium was successful not only in bringing together 1200 people from over ninety countries, and the discussions took place along a wide range of issues which now covered militarisation and peace, masculinities and poverty, identity and inclusion in addition to issues that we had covered earlier like sexualities, violence and health. To energise the field, we had a two-pronged approach. The first was a pre-symposium process in which we held a series of events like workshops and film festivals across India. A curated film festival with around 70 films was also distributed to MenEngage country coordinators across the globe to share and view with their constituents. The second process, of which this volume can be considered the ultimate product, was to create a series of products from the proceedings of the symposium which would allow the lessons to remain available to those who came for



the Symposium and sought a reminder and to the many more who could not participate but needed access to the discussions and conversation that took place. In the most direct form videos of all the plenary sessions and most of the key sessions continue to be hosted on the Symposium website. We have also prepared a series of booklets and discussion papers synthesising the conversation in specific themes, and a book Windows to Working with Men and Boys captured the details of the different interventions that had been shared at the Symposium. This volume Global Masculinities: Interrogations and Reconstructions is our ambitious effort to put together an academic volume from those selected papers which could be considered to be significant contributions to the field of masculinities studies. All the chapters in this book began first as brief abstracts and then as oral presentations at the 2nd MenEngage Symposium where they were appreciated by the participants and it was felt by the organising team that there was a potential in preparing a more formal chapter-length paper for publication. The result is now in your hands. The process of curating each chapter from an initial presentation to the final form in this book has been possible only through the dedication of our Editor Professor Mangesh Kulkarni with able assistance from Ms Rimjhim Jain. Professor Mangesh Kulkarni is a colleague and associate of Forum to Engage Men which both of us were involved in setting up. He has played an important role in the organising processes of the 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium, paying particular attention to the quality of the intellectual content and conversations. He was prompt to accept the editorial responsibility of what was then a proposed volume during the planning processes for the Symposium. This volume is testimony to his close attention to quality and thoroughness of the editorial processes which go into preparing such a multi-author volume. Rimjhim Jain has been an able support as she encouraged the authors across the globe, helping them to articulate their work in a manner which was both lucid and insightful. I would also like to thank our publishers Routledge who not only agreed to publish proceedings of a practitioner symposium, but have been guiding us throughout the process which is a new one for us. I feel extremely proud to be part of the processes that have led to the publication of this book and I am sure the lessons that it holds in its different chapters will be valuable and worthwhile to students, teachers and researchers as well as practitioners, activists and programme managers across the world who are joined in a common pursuit of understanding and addressing gender injustices.

PREFACE Trying to Capture the Boggart of Patriarchy Rimjhim Jain

This volume of papers on masculinities worldwide is one of the enduring legacies of the 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium 2014 – Men and Boys for Gender Justice, held in New Delhi. If ever an activist, organisation or researcher felt they were ploughing a lone furrow in working on organising men for gender justice, then the symposium with its massive aggregation of people representing experiences and ideas from all over the world on the issue, seeded hope and the reassurance of a fraternity. Nevertheless, on the other hand it gave a troublingly coherent vision of the many other ‘isms’ positioned against advancing on ‘feminism’. There was the reinforcement that gender equality cannot be dealt with in a vacuum and that problems of nationalism, militarism, casteism, racism, capitalism, fundamentalism and types of fascism – some of them old wine in new bottles, are shaping forms of hegemonic masculinities that are defining orders in which the curtailment of women’s rights are being felt most sharply. In parts of South Asia for instance major political changes in this decade have brought about a systemic erosion of human rights that have promoted a form of masculine violence by the state, supported by sections of the media, in the name of protecting one’s nation, religion and community. There has been the creation of an ‘other’, an enemy who is ‘dishonouring our women’ (for instance through so-called Love Jihad) and our various identities and must be fought against by brave men protecting the nation, religion, community and women. This increasing ghettoisation and chipping away of the South Asian region’s syncretic, harmonious traditions is impacting women strongly. Globally, recent events have shown that in no part of the world can feminists (the term subsumes pro-feminist men) sit back on the basis of perceived advancements and victories; it is important for women’s rights activists to be constantly strategising how to be on the frontlines against sexual violence and



harassment, discrimination at the workplace, in the political sphere and as ever in the family and personal sphere. Like the JK Rowling creation of the shapeshifting Boggart, a creature which no one knows what it looks like but which gives evidence of its continuing existence by assuming the form of one’s deepest fears, patriarchy continually emerges in different unsuspecting forms. To remain alert against this Boggart of patriarchy it is imperative that feminist scholars and activists constantly engage in understanding gender and masculinities, identify inequalities, discover how they are rooted in structural, attitudinal and normative ways, and develop effective ways of working to dismantle them. Whether we have come anywhere close to getting the better of the shapeshifting phenomenon is debatable. For every step forward in achieving equal opportunities for women it seems there is some form of coercion and threat which forces women’s rights two steps backwards. The path that led to the big moment of catharsis on social media in the form of the #MeToo campaign also leads back to reveal the desperation of living in a world where such violence has been completely normalised by a patriarchal society. In parts of the world where progressive, women-supportive laws and policies have been put into place as a result of movements and unrelenting activism, what feminists feared is also taking shape – an increasingly strident counter-movement of ‘Men have rights too’. In India the solidifying emergence of this attitude among sections in the courts, government and citizen’s groups, is combining to water down hard-won feminist gains. The insidious argument that the women’s movement is militantly beating down men in bedrooms and boardrooms is being posited against attempts to bring in a law against marital rape and laws to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace; it is also behind several recent attempts to open privileged windows of opportunity for men to prove they are “innocent victims of the misuse of the law” by women on a historical or personal gender vendetta. It is precisely to avoid this situation of gender war and instead promote gender transformative behaviours that alliances, programmes, campaigns and networks like MenEngage Alliance, Forum to Engage Men, White Ribbon Campaign, the global fatherhood campaign MenCare, India’s Ek Saath campaign involving men in changing gender social norms and the One Billion Rising (OBR) global campaign to prevent violence against women, are organising. They are working towards changing cultures of masculinities, building peace and bringing equitable relationships. While laws are a deterrent, it is necessary to change existing gendered social norms to increase women’s autonomy and reduce their vulnerability by changing the social context. Tools and resources are being developed to positively engage men to reflect on the asymmetries of gender power, contextualise it and take accountability, and also be able to deconstruct the social systems that promote patriarchy in the individual as well as the structural and that cause gender-based violence against women. Much of this work of developing approaches of engaging men and examining the domains of patriarchy was critically assessed at the global symposium and the



thirteen papers in this volume reflect some of its sharpest analysis. They look at how a web of intersecting norms is embedded within social interactions, structures and institutions and derive power from them, and they review how to influence attitudes, behaviours, practices and structural factors. On behalf of CHSJ I acknowledge thanks and indebtedness to the authors for contributing their papers and importantly, patiently waiting for this volume to appear. We give grateful thanks to the reviewers around the world who, though they cannot be named, generously gave of their time and knowledge to do blind peer reviews of all the papers that had been submitted, helping the editors winnow down to this selection from the many valuable papers by other researchers and activists which could not eventually be included in this volume. We would like to acknowledge the effort of the editors and entire team at Routledge that took us through the process of crafting a finely shaped publication from the raw papers. We are deeply grateful to the esteemed RW Connell who graciously contributed a foreword that anchors the volume to a time and place even as it looks backwards and forwards to link the issues raised in this book with a larger scheme of things. The volume would not have been possible without the global symposium which birthed it, and we thank every one of the symposium’s supporters for their diverse resources and inputs into the symposium. Finally, thanks must go to Satish Kumar Singh leading the men and gender work in CHSJ for believing enough in the importance of this volume to set aside resources and time for it over a lengthy period amidst the organisation’s other busy activist and practitioner roles and well after CHSJ had completed its role of anchoring the secretariat of the global symposium.


The book would not have materialised without the unstinting cooperation of the contributors spanning five continents, a dozen disciplines as well as academic and activist domains. I gladly offer my sincere thanks to each of them. I am also grateful to the experts who granted my request to review the initial drafts of the chapters, and offered extremely helpful suggestions. I owe a special word of thanks to Dr Raewyn Connell (Professor Emerita, University of Sydney, Australia) – a key founder of Critical Masculinity Studies and author of Masculinities (2005), the best-known book in the field – for readily accepting my plea to contribute a Foreword which has greatly enhanced the value of this volume. Without the sturdy support received from Dr Abhijit Das (Director), Mr Satish Kumar Singh (Additional Director) and Ms Rimjhim Jain (Programme Manager) of the Centre for Health and Social Justice (New Delhi, India), and the able assistance provided by Mr Aakash Chakrabarty (Commissioning Editor) and Ms Brinda Sen (Editorial Assistant) of Routledge (New Delhi, India), this book would not have seen the light of day. Hats off to them! I take this opportunity to place on record my intellectual debt to Dr Sanjay Srivastava (Professor of Sociology, Institute of Economic Growth, University of Delhi, India), who has made a significant contribution to the critical study of Indian masculinities over the last two decades. I remain beholden to Shraddha for enabling me to devote most of my time and energy to academic pursuits.

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INTRODUCTION Engaging global masculinities Mangesh Kulkarni

I In an interview conducted in 1968, the French philosopher Louis Althusser (2001: 4) famously used the image of great ‘continents’ on which various sciences have been installed in the course of history. He argued that Thales, Galileo and Marx opened up the continents of Mathematics, Physics and History respectively. Similarly, it could be said that feminists opened up the continent of Gender Studies by critically scrutinising the ways in which gender is socially constructed on the basis of the supposedly natural division of humankind into two sexes, and by highlighting the concomitant legitimisation of heteropatriarchal norms, structures and practices throughout society. The origin of feminism in women’s movements initially led to an equation of Gender Studies with Women’s Studies, and a neglect of the gendered nature of men’s lives. In her pioneering work, the Second Sex, originally published in 1949, Simone de Beauvoir flatly ruled out the very possibility of the requisite selfreflexivity among men: “It would never occur to a man to write a book on the singular situation of males [emphasis added]. . .A man never begins by positing himself as an individual of a certain sex: that he is a man is obvious” (Beauvoir 2011: 25).

Emergence and development of critical masculinity studies Harry Brod (1999: 921) points out that the ubiquitous treatment of males as generic humans has prevented a proper understanding of “whatever might be specific to men as men. . .While our vision of women has been blurred by pushing them into an undistinguished background, our vision of men has been blurred by bringing them into an overly highlighted foreground”. One need not uphold a prediscursive notion of maleness to acknowledge the grain of truth in this observation. Indeed, it was precisely the sustained feminist interrogation of the equation of


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masculinity with humanity tout court, and the ensuing struggle to carve out a space for women in every sphere of human life, which triggered a critical self-awareness among many men who embraced anti-patriarchal activism and laid the foundations of masculinity studies during the 1970s. Men have increasingly joined like-minded women and members of the queer community in pursuing feminist advocacy as also in a methodical investigation of masculinities across the world over the last five decades. Together they have given rise to MenEngage–a global alliance of country networks, non-governmental organisations and UN partners, which was launched in 2006 to promote gender justice–and have generated a growing scholarly corpus encompassing research monographs (e.g., the ongoing Routledge Critical Studies of Men and Masculinities series), tertiary literature (e.g., Kimmel, Hearn and Connell 2005; Flood et al. 2007) and academic journals like Men and Masculinities that was started in 1998. Several new concepts have emerged from this ferment and aided efforts to understand and change the established gender order for the better. These include ‘hegemonic masculinity’ and ‘patriarchal dividend’ a la R. W. Connell (2005), Michael Kimmel’s insight into men’s contradictory relationship with power (Kimmel 2009), Mrinalini Sinha’s notion of ‘colonial masculinity’ (Sinha 1997), and Eric Anderson’s persuasive elaboration of ‘inclusive masculinity’ (Anderson 2012). According to Connell, masculinity is a place in gender relations, the practices through which people engage that place, and the effects of these practices in bodily experience, personality and culture; while hegemonic masculinity is the configuration of gender practice which embodies the currently accepted answer to the legitimacy of patriarchy. Most men are unable to practise the hegemonic pattern; yet they benefit from the patriarchal dividend, namely, the advantages derived from the overall subordination of women. Kimmel explains several masculinist pathologies as responses to the gap between men’s perceived entitlement to power and their actual experience of powerlessness. Sinha’s perspicuous account of the way ‘British manliness’ and ‘Indian effeminacy’ were conjointly constructed within the nineteenth century imperial social formation could shed light on the aetiology of post-colonial gender orders elsewhere in the world. Anderson’s influential but keenly contested (O’Neill 2015) formulation highlights the progressive transcendence of orthodox masculinity in the West, signalled by the decline of heteronormativity, homophobia, sexism and machismo. The present volume is an outcome of the activist and intellectual synergy sketched above. It comprises a set of chapters that are rigorously peer-reviewed and revised versions of select papers originally presented at the Second MenEngage Global Symposium held in New Delhi during 10–13 November 2014, which elicited the participation of 1200 persons from ninety-five countries (Centre for Health and Social Justice 2015). The contributors span five continents as well as the domains of scholarship, advocacy and policymaking in governmental and nongovernmental spheres. They investigate the dynamics of masculinity by drawing on academic expertise in a wide spectrum of disciplines ranging from Anthropology and



Philosophy to Public Health and Neurobiology as also on substantial experience of working with men and boys. The volume addresses hegemonic and subaltern masculinities from multiple perspectives, even as it documents and shares evidence, insights and direction on how men and boys can creatively contribute to the construction of an equitable global gender order in the twenty-first century. The chapters illuminate diverse aspects of men’s lives and their imbrication with socioeconomic and political processes and phenomena including the family, fatherhood, migration, violence, development, conflict-resolution and peace-building, nationalism, law, and public policy. They represent various modes of engagement and presentation: academic analyses, evaluation of projects, as also policy studies. Compared to the handful of analogous works (Jones 2006; Ruspini et al. 2011) this volume stands out as it focuses on the global South without losing sight of the North and of the linkages between the two, and on account of its adroit blending of intellectual rigour and praxiological commitment.

The predicament of patriarchal masculinities While patriarchy blatantly oppresses girls and women, what often goes unnoticed is that it also locks boys and men into a vicious circle of coercion. This is clearly evident in the opening chapter authored by Nolwazi Mkhwanazi who teaches Anthropology at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. Citing ethnographic data collected over a decade and a half, she examines the cultural politics of male initiation rites among the Xhosa-speaking people of South Africa, which require every boy to attain manhood by undergoing circumcision in an isolated place. As this practice sometimes results in mutilated or amputated genitalia and occasionally even in death, the Application of Health Standards in the Traditional Circumcision Act (2001) was passed to regulate it. However, the Act was implacably opposed by the ‘traditionalists’, for it threatened the entrenched power of Xhosa male elders at a time when boys in the community were resisting the customary initiation rites. A study conducted by public health specialists showed that the incidence of circumcisionrelated complications and fatalities had not changed much five years after the passage of the Act (Meissner and Buso 2007: 371–73). Recent reports suggest that the tragedy continues unabated (SABC News 2016). Mkhwanazi’s study emphasises the role of tradition in maintaining patriarchy. But it must be remembered that supposedly ‘modern’ institutions frequently reinforce traditional gender norms and practices. This is amply borne out by Sanjeev Uprety’s study based on information gathered from a wide cross section of people associated with courts, NGOs, police stations and the media in urban Kathmandu (Nepal). The author, who teaches English at Tribhuvan University, argues that these institutions are shaped by and reproduce deeply internalised retrograde values and expectations concerning masculinities and femininities, which prevail in the society at large. Socialisation leads men to believe that it is perfectly natural to display dominance and aggression during their interactions with women. Since legal spaces are both


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male-dominated and suffused with such patriarchal mindsets, the law cannot be treated unproblematically as a harbinger of progress. Hence any attempt to create a society devoid of gender-based violence and discrimination must launch a concerted attack on the normative, sociostructural and juridical foundations of patriarchy. This is precisely the thrust of the recently launched One Billion Rising (OBR) campaign– a global feminist initiative–which also has a Nepal Chapter (Nepali Times 2016). Even as activist interventions like OBR seek to promote gender harmony, many States and non-State groups foment armed conflict in which men and boys are deeply implicated as both perpetrators and victims. Hannah Wright–a researcher at the Gender Institute of the London School of Economics (UK)–reviews the attempts of several organisations and networks across five continents in diverse post-conflict settings, which sought to build peace by changing attitudes toward masculinity and transforming men’s behaviour. She argues that feminist scholarship and the experience of concerned activists provide rich material for conflict-prevention and peacebuilding strategies; but they also point to major pitfalls including the risk of othering already marginalised men whilst shying away from the challenge of engaging with elites; a preoccupation with violent masculinities on an individual level, ignoring the systemic roots of violence; and drifting away from the broader agenda of gender justice. To avoid these pitfalls, it is necessary to adopt an approach that is attentive to the play of structure and agency at multiple levels of practice and analysis within a framework of critical gender studies (Quest and Messerschmidt 2017). Violence is deployed during armed conflict in an exceptionally brutal manner and on a large scale. But it is also insidiously present in men’s everyday social life, and is frequently directed against women. Shashish Kamal, a researcher at the Centre for Men and Masculinities Studies (Bangladesh), analyses data collected through qualitative as well as quantitative methods to interpret such violent behaviour of Bangladeshi male students in tertiary education. He identifies these young men’s culturally embedded practices rooted in binaries like good girl/bad girl, ideas of ‘having fun’, stalking, mechanisms of control, revenge and punishment. Kamal tries to understand how dominant masculinity is embodied in these practices, and hopes to facilitate interventions for questioning and refashioning it along gender-just lines. The Brave Men campaign launched by the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh is an example of such an intervention. It includes co-curricular activities designed to sensitise school-going boys to the rights of women and girls (Daily Star 2015). The conduct of young men is notably shaped by the peer group; but it is amenable to the constructive influence of mentors, which is the theme of the chapter co-authored by Sandy Ruxton, Martin Robb, Brigid Featherstone and Michael Ward (Faculty of Health and Social Care, Open University, UK). After interviewing several young men using support services and the adults who work with them across the United Kingdom, these researchers found that it is the personal qualities of staff– respect, trust, consistency, care and commitment–rather than their gender identities, which are key to developing effective helping relationships with the vulnerable youth. However, a sense of shared experience and social background between the



recipients and providers of support services can create a better rapport and aid transitions to a more salutary masculine identity. In effect, service personnel act less as role models for young men, and more as mentors with whom they can construct new selves and futures. These findings are particularly valuable at a juncture when not just marginalised young males, but most boys and men in Britain (and in a number of other developed countries) are seen to be falling behind their female counterparts in significant spheres of life (Hardman 2014). As Hardman notes, despite the great strides British women have made in education, health and employment, they remain overwhelmingly susceptible to physical and sexual violence. This problem assumes an acute form in societies where women are yet to achieve even a modicum of empowerment, and where it is deeply intertwined with other ingrained forms of violence, prompting civil society organisations to experiment with various innovative solutions (Oxfam International 2012). Baron Oron and Alice Welbourn (Network of Stepping Stones Approaches, Uganda and Salamander Trust, UK) provide an evaluative account of a training programme known to transform gender norms, which was run for over nine months in Karamoja (Uganda) to promote peace and prosperity in a community plagued by small-arms proliferation, cattle raiding and related sexual violence. Anchored in neurobiological research on positive thinking and the ‘mindsight’ triangle, the programme sought to foster rapid change in the participant’s attitudes and behaviour. A rigorous academic assessment of the exercise confirmed the following results: a greater sense of security, reduced incidence and acceptability of intimate partner violence, increased sharing of ‘female’ tasks by men as well as wider political literacy. Yet some poorly educated young men continued to raid cattle and indulge in attendant sexual violence, suggesting that durable change would require long-term engagement, effective access to education, and vocational training to ensure legal means of livelihood. Historically, religion, masculinities and violence have been interlaced in complex and contradictory ways. Emanuel Prabhar and Lizle Loots of Tearfund (a Christian charity headquartered in the UK) probe this interrelationship in the contemporary setting of Africa’s great lakes region encompassing the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, which has witnessed chronic conflict, lawlessness, and mounting sexual and gender-based violence. As faith occupies a central place in the social life of the region, an empirical study was commissioned to understand its role in shaping regional masculinities. The survey revealed the presence of religiously sanctioned rigid gender identities and roles valorising the nexus between violence, dominance and masculinity. The follow-up included a successful exploration of theology-based education meant to disseminate an emancipatory interpretation of scriptures for promoting wholesome masculinities. The Tearfund initiative is part of the increasing and welcome involvement of religious institutions in reforming masculinities, signalled by the publication of Created in God’s Image: From Hegemony to Partnership–a substantial manual on the subject, published by a global alliance of churches (Sheerattan-Bisnauth and Peacock 2010).


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Many of the foregoing chapters testify to the earnestness of widespread intellectual and activist efforts for engaging men in ending violence and building gender equality. Michael Flood (University of Woologong, Australia) scrutinises certain influential assumptions that often inform such work, though they are not backed by evidence, and could be counterproductive. While affirming men’s potentially vital role in eliminating violence against women, the sociologist calls for much greater reflexivity in the field of violence-prevention advocacy. To appreciate the timeliness of his advice, one need only turn to a sixty-page World Bank publication ambitiously titled Interventions to prevent or reduce violence against women and girls: a systematic review of reviews (Arango et al. 2014), which does not mention the term ‘patriarchy’ even once! Specifically, Flood highlights inadequacies and desiderata in the following three dimensions of the field: its relations with feminism, its perceptions of masculinity and gender, and its approaches to securing men’s involvement. This pertinent critique points out the shortcomings of well-meaning but superficial and short-lived initiatives, and suggests thoughtful ways of pre-empting them.

Caring masculinities Recent investigations and interventions pertaining to masculinities have sought to gauge and boost men’s participation in ensuring the well-being of their families and in care-giving more generally (Kramer and Thompson 2005).The subsequent chapters address important aspects of this larger concern. Sana Contractor, Shreeti Shakya, Satish Singh and Mahendra Kumar (Centre for Health and Social Justice, India) focus on male participation in family planning through an evaluation of a collaborative project launched by three non-governmental organisations in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. As the authors point out, it is women who have borne the brunt of contraception in India. Men continue to see this as a natural state of affairs and labour under misgivings about contraception despite the government’s policy of eliciting their active cooperation in population control. Hence the low usage of condoms and non-scalpel vasectomy, though they are offered by the official family planning programme. The authors explain how the above-mentioned NGO project sought to correct the imbalance, and discuss the lessons as well as policy implications yielded by the experience. Midwifery remains a female preserve around the world, though men are not entirely absent from it (Merz 2014). Sneha Makkad and Mira Sadgopal (Jeeva Project, India) inquire into the role of men serving as Dais (traditional indigenous midwives) in a tribal district of the Western Indian state of Maharashtra. The official health policy aims at the replacement of Dai-assisted homebirth by institutional childbirth. But the authors’ report of a multi-disciplinary study (2011–15) reveals a sizeable presence of Dais. Thus, in one of the hilly and disadvantaged sites comprising a population of 10,021, there were 108 Dais and a third of them were men (huarku). The extensive survey and narrative data garnered from the local community shows that the male Dais often teams up with a female Dai (huarki) to assist in childbirth which mostly happens in homes as the harsh environmental and socioeconomic



conditions of the tribal belt put it beyond the pale of primary health services. Their caring style combines assertiveness and sensitivity, while their availability and mobility even at night or in poor weather gives them added importance in such remote areas. Male Dais break masculinist stereotypes and render valuable service; hence it would be desirable to integrate them in future plans for community-based midwifery. Fatherhood is often associated with love, security and benign authority; but it also has a fraught history which invokes unsavoury images of men ranging from the paterfamilias of ancient Rome, who held complete sway over his household, to the contemporary ‘deadbeat dad’ who irresponsibly leaves his wife and children to fend for themselves (Zoja 2001).The reality on the ground is far more complex and deserves systematic exploration. Drawing on methodically collected household survey data, Srdjan Dusanic, (Faculty of Philosophy, University Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina) maps the nature of men’s participation in housework and childcare, and their role as fathers in his country. He records the continued prevalence of stereotypes about male dominance, reflected in most men’s preference for chores geared to financial decisions and the exercise of craftsmanship– a division of labour that was acceptable to nearly four-fifths of the women included in the survey. Over half the men took care of the children on a daily basis. But such interaction mainly involved playing with them and only a limited contribution to feeding them or changing their clothes. Early childhood experiences, the influence of wives, and family values were among the salient determinants of the men’s commitment to domestic responsibilities. The patriarchal template of men’s role in the family may alter gradually through endogenous social change in a community; but it may come under sudden pressure through drastic changes such as those induced by migration. Both these modes of transformation are evident in the era of globalisation marked by the rising mobility of men as well as women (O’Neil, Fleury and Foresti 2016). Valentina Utari (SMERU Research Institute, Indonesia) explores the shifts in Indonesian gender perceptions and practices resulting from such a twofold process of change. Women’s roles in Indonesia were shaped through the State ideology of Ibuism glorifying wifehood and motherhood; while men’s roles were similarly moulded through the complementary ideology of Bapakism upholding traditional notions of masculinity. Ibuism has been challenged by the Indonesian women who have acquired greater access to education and entered the public sphere. Utari inquires whether there has been a corresponding interrogation of Bapakism and its image of the male as the breadwinner. Specifically, she seeks to track the changes in the gendered self-concept and behaviour of men accompanying their wives who have received a scholarship to pursue higher studies in Australia. Her findings suggest that due to the absence of external support the men participated in domestic work with their wives while living abroad; but reverted to their conventional roles on returning to Indonesia. The 1990s saw an international acknowledgment of the need to sensitise men regarding their responsibility in matters of reproductive health as an aspect of


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engaging them in the larger mission of empowering women (UNFPA 2004: 28– 29). Since then, researchers, activists and policymakers have also come to recognise the imperative of going beyond the biomedical paradigm to address men’s health concerns holistically. This is the context in which Daniel Lima and Eduardo Schwarz (Ministry of Health, Brazil) present a case study of the Brazilian government’s National Policy of Integral Health Attention to Men. Launched in 2009, the policy targets over 50 million men in the age group of twenty–fifty-nine years old by facilitating their access to health services. Its key components include sexual and reproductive health, fatherhood and care, as also prevention of accidents and violence. This ambitious and pioneering programme has achieved a modicum of success in promoting men’s health as part of a gender transformative agenda, and has made a significant impact in Latin America (Spindler 2015).

Conclusion The central contention of the book is that the arduous task of dismantling patriarchy requires a two-pronged feminist intervention involving a sustained critique of hegemonic masculinities and direct mobilization of men and boys for bringing about gender justice. It demonstrates how this can be achieved in theory and practice. Hence it will have an equal appeal to concerned researchers, activists, policymakers and lay readers. Grounded in contemporary realities and endowed with a futuristic orientation, this multidisciplinary and cosmopolitan book represents a unique contribution to Critical Masculinity Studies.

References Althusser, Louis. 2001. Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays (tr. Ben Brewster), New York: Monthly Review Press. Anderson, Eric. 2012. Inclusive Masculinity: The Changing Nature of Masculinities, London: Routledge. Arango, Diana, Morton, Mathew, Gennari, Floriza, Kiplesund, Sveinung and Ellsberg, Mary. 2014. Interventions to Prevent or Reduce Violence against Women and Girls: A Systematic Review of Reviews, Washington, DC: The World Bank. Beauvoir, Simone de. 2011. The Second Sex (tr. Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany Chevallier), New York: Vintage Books. Brod, Harry. 1999. ‘Men’s Studies’. In Tierney, Helen (ed.), Women’s Studies Encyclopedia, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Centre for Health and Social Justice. 2015. Windows to Working with Men and Boys, New Delhi: Centre for Health and Social Justice. Connell, Raewyn W. 2005. Masculinities, Crows Nest: Allen and Unwin. Daily Star. 2015. ‘Brave Men Campaign: “Real Men” Fight for Equality’, 20 June, http:// Flood, Michael, Gardiner, Judith Kegan, Pease, Bob and Pringle, Keith. 2007. International Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinities, London: Routledge. Hardman, Isabel. 2014. ‘Save the Male! Britain’s Crisis of Masculinity’, The Spectator, 3 May,



Jones, Adam (ed.). 2006. Men of the Global South, London: Zed Books. Kimmel, Michael. 2009. ‘Masculinity Studies: An Introduction’. In Armengol, Josep and Carabi, Angels (eds.), Debating Masculinity, Harriman, TN: Men’s Studies Press. Kimmel, Michael, Hearn, Jeff and Connell, Raewyn W. 2005. Handbook of Studies on Men and Masculinities, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Kramer, Betty and Thompson, Edward (eds.). 2005. Men as Caregivers, Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books. Meissner, Ortrun and Buso, David L. 2007. ‘Traditional Male Circumcision in the Eastern Cape – Scourge or Blessing?’, South African Medical Journal, 97(5), pp. 371-373. Merz, Theo. 2014. ‘No Job for a Man? Meet the Male Midwives’, The Telegraph, 3 November. Nepali Times. 2016. ‘South Asia Rising’, 19 September. O’Neil, Tam, Fleury, Anjali and Foresti, Marta. 2016. Women on the Move: Migration, Gender Equality and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, London: Overseas Development Institute. O’Neill, Rachel. 2015. ‘Whither Critical Masculinity Studies? Notes on Inclusive Masculinity Theory, Postfeminism, and Sexual Politics’, Men and Masculinities, 18 (1), 100–120. Oxfam International. 2012. Ending Violence against Women: An Oxfam Guide, Oxfor Oxfam. Quest, Hendrik and Messerschmidt, Maike. 2017. ‘Between Structure and Practice: A Theory-Based Framework for Masculinities in Armed Conflict’, Events/PaperDetails.aspx?PaperID=33704&EventID=114 (accessed on 19 March 2017). Ruspini, Elisabetta, Hearn, Jeff, Pease, Bob and Pringle, Keith (eds.). 2011. Men and Masculinities around the World: Transforming Men’s Practices, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. SABC News. 2016. ‘Eastern Cape Initiates Death Toll Rises’, 22 December, http://www. Sheerattan-Bisnauth, Patricia and Peacock, Philip Vinod (eds.). 2010. Created in God’s Image: From Hegemony to Partnership, Geneva: World Communion of Reformed Churches & World Council of Churches. Sinha, Mrinalini. 1997. Colonial Masculinity: The “Manly Englishman” and the “Effeminate Bengali” in the Late Nineteenth Century, New Delhi: Kali for Women. Spindler, Esther. 2015. Beyond the Prostate: Brazil’s National Healthcare Policy for Men (PNAISH), EMERGE Case Study 1, Promundo-US, Sonke Gender Justice and the Institute of Development Studies. UNFPA. 2004. Programme of Action Adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development, Cairo, 5–13 September 1994. Zoja, Luigi. 2001. The Father: Historical, Psychological and Cultural Perspectives (tr. Henry Martin), Philadelphia, PA: Taylor and Francis.

1 MAKING MEN The cultural politics of male initiation rites in South Africa Nolwazi Mkhwanazi

Introduction In many societies around the world, rites of passage accompany important life course events such as birth, puberty and marriage. The rites associated with puberty have been of particular interest to anthropologists (cf. Carstens 1982; Richards 1982; Turner 1995). Some have theorised that these rites are critical to social reproduction and maintaining or restoring social equilibrium in societies where relationships are potentially fraught. Both Richards (1982) and Turner (1995), for example, in their research on the Bemba and Ndembu respectively, link the performance of rituals to the existence of a contradiction in norms and social practice. Rituals, they suggest, serve to dispel social conflict. Turner (1995) explains that the practise of isoma among the Ndembu seeks to resolve a ‘crisis’ emerging from a contradiction in norms whereby the women of a matrilineal descent peoples with virilocal marriage spend the majority of their reproductive life cycle living in their husband’s villages. Since the children belong to the matriline, and because mothers and children share a close bond, the mother often follows her children when they leave to reside with her matri-kin. Citing the high divorce rate Turner writes “in a very real sense village continuity, through women depends upon marital discontinuity” (Turner 1995: 12). The enactment of the chisungu also served to counter a contradiction whereby among the matrilineal Bemba, men were dominant (cf. Richards 1982). Among Xhosa-speaking people of South Africa, whom this chapter is about, the practice of male or female initiation rites was dependent on a variety of factors including the influence of missionaries, access to cattle, availability of young men and adherence to ideas reinforcing the importance of the rites.1 Monica Hunter (1936) described how Mpondo families who had not adopted Christianity continued to perform female initiation rites (ukuthombisa) for their daughters. While these rites did

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not include a physical operation or sexual instruction for the initiate (intonjane), ideally, they took place at menarche to ask for the blessing of the ancestors for a fertile future. Since the 1930s, the practise of female initiation has waned significantly and today, it is only practiced in special circumstances. While a similar demise was also recorded in the practise of male initiation rites in the Pondoland countryside in the 1930s, undergoing male initiation rites has remained a significant aspect of becoming a Xhosa man even during the liberation struggle when the relationship between young men and their elders was strained. Comparing the differing status of male and female initiation rites among the Nama and amaXhosa, Carstens (1982) suggests that cattle were central to why female initiation rites among amaXhosa waned while male rites continued to be practised, whereas among the Nama the opposite was true. Inspired by the conclusions of Judith K Brown’s cross-cultural study that female initiation rites occur in societies where firstly, women reside in the same domestic unit over their life course – undergoing initiation rites thus publicly and symbolically marks the young woman’s changed status from girl to woman. Secondly, where women make a notable contribution to subsistence and so the rites serve to acknowledge a woman’s contribution and competence, Carstens (1982) convincingly argues that both the Nama and rural amaXhosa uphold this hypothesis. He shows that Nama women controlled the distribution of cow’s milk, a valued resource for subsistence and that Nama women managed households and “even controlled men in the domestic arena” (Carstens 1982: 520). In contrast, among the rural Xhosa, cattle were a male preserve and men controlled women’s labour. Therefore any contribution a woman made to the domestic unit was measured as part of the male’s overall contribution. Men were “the managers of production units” (Carstens 1982: 520). Popular anthropological accounts on the existence of male initiation rites often focus on the content of the rites and highlight five aspects that may be present. These include a seclusion which often involves a separation from women; a test of strength and endurance; restriction on food and sex; secret knowledge; and costumes or a masking of the body (cf. Silverman 2004). These accounts often reiterate the idea of initiation, particularly male initiation, as an intervention in social relations – relations between a son and his mother/kinswomen on the one hand; and between a son and his father/kinsmen, on the other. They also highlight that undergoing initiation is a dangerous ordeal. Taking a slightly different angle to earlier studies while still highlighting the vulnerability that young males are exposed to when they undergo initiation, the ethnographic problematique that guides this chapter is the question of why Xhosa male elders who described themselves as ‘traditional authorities’ refused to concede to an alteration of Xhosa male initiation rites that was suggested by medical and health professionals in order to minimise the injury and death of initiates. Put differently, why are Xhosa boys being encouraged to place their lives, bodies and sexuality in the hands of traditional authorities, some of whom do not have the knowledge and experience to oversee their safe transition from boyhood to manhood?


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The argument I make in this paper is that in post-apartheid South Africa, initiation rites are a critical vehicle for maintaining the gendered gerontocracy that forms the basis of Xhosa social life. I use the term ‘gendered gerontocracy’ to refer to a hierarchy whereby status is assigned based on age and gender. In this case, it is male elders who wield authority. To make my argument I draw attention to two principles that inform Xhosa sociality – kuhlonipha (respect) and Ubuntu (humanity). I then use secondary sources to paint a picture of what occurs during initiation rites to suggest that initiation rites are an important medium through which young men are taught to uphold these principles. I then turn to examine the strategies that the men who called themselves traditionalists used to reject the proposed alterations to the rites and in doing so ensured that the gendered gerontocracy continues to be an important feature of Xhosa social life, even at the expense of the lives of young men. The article draws on primary data that was collected during my PhD fieldwork in the township of Nyanga East. Between 2001 and 2002 I spent eighteen months conducting ethnographic research on teenage pregnancy and more generally, on the lives of children and young people in Nyanga East. It also includes interviews and conversations with young people that I continue to have in my long-term ethnographic research in the area. In 2005–6, 2010–11, and June–July of 2013 I returned to the township to conducted additional research albeit for much shorter periods of time. I used ethnographic research methods to collect the data. These methods included participant observation, where I immersed myself in the lives of the research participants. I also conducted interviews with a range of people, young and old, male and female. The interviews explored a variety of subjects. Among young people, for example, topics included sexual and reproductive health issues such as relationships (between genders and generations), sexual debut, love, teenage pregnancy, teenage motherhood, initiation and violence. Detailed field notes, documenting my observations of young people’s interactions and relationships, support the interviews. I did not initiate conversations about male initiation rites per se, since talk about the content of the rites is forbidden. However in conversations about manhood and/or marriage, initiation was frequently discussed by the research participants.

Becoming a man Every year in June/July and in December/January throngs of young males between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five years attend initiation schools in the Eastern Cape. Among the amaXhosa, the majority of whom reside in the Eastern Cape, a boy becomes a man by undergoing initiation rites in an isolated place, colloquially referred to as ‘the bush’. The initiation rites involve circumcision and the seclusion of the boys for up to four weeks. During the rites, the boys are taught about the roles and responsibilities that will be theirs once they become men. While initiated men are forbidden from discussing the rites with outsiders, the uninitiated, and women, it is common knowledge that initiation entails teachings and a test of

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strength and endurance. Anaesthesia and antiseptics are forbidden. Going to the hospital during the rites is also forbidden. Initiates observe food and water restrictions and they are to avoid contact with women. Male initiation is thus strictly the preserve of men and what happens during the rites is kept a secret. Once a boy has been through initiation, he becomes a man. As a man he can command respect, marry, acquire property, perform rituals, partake in decisionmaking in the household and in the community. He can also become an ancestor when he dies. For the majority of boys the transition from boyhood (ubukwenkwe) to manhood (ubudoda) is relatively straightforward. However for some boys the transition to manhood ends in mutilated or amputated genitalia and, in some cases, death. The initiation season witnesses numerous media reports on the number of boys that are admitted to hospital. Depending on when they were taken to hospital, a handful of boys are discharged with amputated penises and others die. For much of the twentieth century, initiation schools have remained under the radar of the law and have not elicited much public concern. However in the twenty-first century, there has been a rise in the number of initiation schools and increasing attention is being paid to the casualties of initiation. The new schools, named after places that have recently seen wars such as Afghanistan, Beirut, Rwanda, Kuwait, are often run by practitioners who have little or no training and experience. In a climate of abject poverty, initiation schools are for some older men, a way to earn money. As a result, some of these unregulated schools have been reported to admit more initiates than they are able to adequately care for. Others impose brutal tests on the initiates which include boys being beaten, starved and abused. The widespread reporting of the abuses and deaths in the initiation schools does not, however, deter boys who are determined to become men. In rural areas, boys as young as ten years old run away from home to join initiation schools. In the urban areas, an increasing number of boys have become vocal in challenging the need to undergo initiation to become a man. They claim that in the cities, undergoing initiation is not enough nor is it the only way to earn the respect of being a man. This resistance to initiation has not gone unnoticed. It has, in some instances, led to boys being kidnapped and taken to initiation schools by force, often with the consent of their parents. The controversy surrounding Xhosa male initiation is emotive and impassioned. The deaths of young men and the mutilation of their bodies have been the subject of a public discussion about this secret rite of passage. One of the first organisations’ to take a stance on male initiation rites was Planned Parenthood Association of South Africa that labelled ‘‘traditional’2 male circumcision a ‘reproductive health issue’ in 1998. This bold step was supported by the medical fraternity and drew the attention of the government. Three years later in the province of the Eastern Cape, the Application of Health Standards in the Traditional Circumcision Act (no. 6 of 2001) was passed. Rather than banning the rites outright, the Act put into place measures to protect the initiates from harm, neglect and financial exploitation. The


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Act specified that the Members of the Executive Council of the Eastern Cape province should appoint one or more medical officers who would grant traditional surgeons permission to perform circumcisions. Initiation schools could not operate without the permission of the medical officer. Failure to comply with the regulations would result in a fine of up to R10,000 or ten years in jail. The Act specified that potential initiates needed to be over the age of eighteen and needed parental consent to go to the bush. The Application of Health Standards in the Traditional Circumcision Act (no. 6 of 2001) was received with hostility by those who styled themselves as traditionalists. The Congress of Traditional leaders (Contralesa) called it “an insult to our traditions”. Contralesa said that because women were on the team that drafted the law to be applied to male rituals, the law was unacceptable. They later claimed that the Act was unconstitutional because it infringed on the traditional rights of communities enshrined in the Bill of Rights (section 30). Mwelo Nkonkonyana, Chief of the AmaBhala described the Act as “a load of rubbish” and added “we reject it with the contempt it deserves”. He declared that he would rather go to jail than comply with the Act.

Respect and humanity Dumisani was a soft-spoken, neatly dressed young male. Boys in Nyanga East called him ibari meaning that he was not street wise. With his eighteenth birthday approaching he knew that soon he would be expected to travel to the Eastern Cape to attend one of the initiation schools. Dumisani did not want to go. He told his family that as a Methodist (a denomination of Christianity), he didn’t have to go for initiation. Petros, his older brother, who had undergone initiation simply refused to listen to Dumisani’s explanations. He said that he would not allow Dumisani to bring shame to the family by remaining a boy for the rest of his life. Dumisani pleaded with his older brother and named some of his friends from church who had not gone for initiation. Petros sneered and threatened to take Dumisani to the bush by force. In the spirit of compromise, Mandisa, their twenty-six-year-old sister, suggested that Dumisani be circumcised in hospital. Petros laughed at his sister’s suggestion. With sarcasm in his voice, he told her that she didn’t know what she was talking about. Turning to Dumisani he added: In the bush you learn a lot. You learn to be a man. You learn your place in the world. You learn respect (ufundaintlonipho). . . . You should be respecting me. I am the man of this house. See even now you don’t know respect. You think you can ignore our ancestors. I tell you, it is your people, your ancestors that will look after you. I won’t let you disrespect this family. This is a disgrace . . . (he muttered an insult under his breath). Who is going to sleep with a boy?

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In his rant, Petros evoked a fundamental idea about the importance of initiation: initiation prepares a boy for his place in society as an adult. It teaches him respect and cements his relationship with his family, his community and his ancestors. Xhosa-speaking people negotiate the social world around them through two notions: respect (kuhlonipha) and humanity (ubuntu). Initiation teaches a boy what these notions mean and how to apply them in his day-to-day life as a man. The principle of ubuntu is encapsulated in the saying: umuntungumuntungabantu. Translated literally, the phrase means: “a person is a person because of other people”. Goduka, a Xhosa academic and sangoma (traditional healer), translated the saying as “I am we, I am because we are. We are because I am. I am in you and you are in me” (n.d:3). The principles of ubuntu and ukuhlonipha are predicated on a relational personhood. In other words, a person exists and is constituted by a valued set of social relations. Ubuntu is an expression of the idea that a person comes into being through relationships and a person is inseparable from these relationships. It is through social interactions that one gains the experiences and wisdom that allow him/her to act in accordance with their social role. Being a girl/ boy, man/woman is contingent on appropriate action in sociality, which one learns through the guidance of various elders including ancestors. The notion of ubuntu complements the principle of kuhlonipha. While kuhlonipha denotes respect, it is primarily with reference to elders. It is based on a tacit acceptance that the words of elders are not to be questioned and on the observance of a gendered hierarchy. The title of ‘elder’ (umdala/oo-khoko) applies to anyone that is older, irrespective of where he or she comes from or who they are. It also applies to all men in general and all senior relatives of a woman’s husband. The coming-of-age rites, I suggest, were an important medium through which children who were soon to be given the responsibilities of adulthood were taught to uphold these principles.

Xhosa male initiation Historically, the practice of male initiation rites has varied enormously between the twenty-nine different groups of Xhosa-speaking people (Soga 1932; Hunter 1936; Pauw 1964). Some groups practised only male initiation rites, others only female initiation rites. Some groups practised both. Although the content of the rites varied due to the individual styles of the practitioners, there were common overarching patterns. The ama-Xosa: Life and Customs written by John Henderson Soga, a reverend and historian, and published in 1932 provides a detailed description of male initiation rites. He wrote that boys between the ages of seventeen and twentythree underwent initiation in a place far away from the village. The initiation rite was officiated by well-respected members of the community, who included an advisor (mninisisusa), a traditional surgeon (ingcibi) and some male nurses (amakhankatha). Before the beginning of the rite, the families of the initiates prepared a sheepskin kaross to be worn by the initiate. They also made a leather belt that would be used to support the initiate’s penis after the operation. Two days before the start of the


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initiation, the boys to be initiated (abakhwetha sing. umkhwetha) gathered flexible poles to build the initiation hut (ibhoma) and went out to gather herbs that would be used for dressing the circumcision wound. A night before the circumcision, the first sacrifice of a goat (umngama) was made to ask the ancestors for their blessings and protection. On the day of circumcision, early in the morning the initiates went to the river for ritual purification. They confessed all their misdeeds to the creator (umdali). Thereafter the initiates returned to the main hut. The boys sat in a row in their karosses and waited their turn to be circumcised. The fathers of the initiates were present but sat some distance away. When the foreskin was severed the traditional surgeon exclaimed ‘yithiuyindoda!’ (say you are a man!) to which the initiate responded ‘Ndiyindoda!’ (I am a man!). The initiates were handed their foreskins which they buried in order to protect them from being used by witches. The traditional male nurses were at hand to dress the wound with helichrysumappendiculatum. After the circumcision, elders addressed the newly circumcised boys, now known as amakrwala (unripe fruit), in ways of manhood and respectful manner (kuhlonipha). The second sacrifice (umdaga) was performed when the wounds began to heal. Until the wounds healed, the male nurses attended to the newly circumcised boys. The dressing was changed often until the bleeding stopped. As soon as the wounds were healed and no further dressings were needed, the third sacrifice (osisa) was held. At this stage the initiates were given new names by the chief nurse. From the moment of circumcision until the third sacrifice, the newly circumcised boys were not allowed to smoke or feed themselves. Their fluid intake was severely curtailed. From the third day after circumcision, punishments were liberally applied for misbehaviour by means of caning. A few days after the circumcision, the newly circumcised boys were decorated with white clay (ifuta) and continued to decorate themselves with the clay every day. On the last day of the rites, the initiates went to the river to bathe. They smeared their bodies with fat and wrapped themselves in new blankets. On this day the hut containing their possessions was set alight. The young men were forbidden to look back. When they returned home, they were welcomed by the community and a feast was held in their honour. Before the feast the young men were given advice and presented with gifts, first by grandmothers (elder women), then by male elders and men, and finally by mothers. After the feast, they smeared themselves with red ochre mixed with oil, which they would continue to do for a year. Each boy was given new ‘western’-style clothes – usually a jacket, trousers and a hat – that he had to wear until he became a ‘man’. He only became a man after he found employment or a year after having undergone initiation.

The purpose of male initiation Writing about the second generation of Xhosa in the city of East London in the Eastern Cape, Pauw described initiation as “a ladder to humanity (ubuntu) and respect” (Pauw 1964: 89). Soga (1932), Laubscher (1937), Pauw (1964), Mayer

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(1971), Elliot (1987), Funani (1990), Erlank (2000), Vincent (2008), Mavundla et al. (2009), Ntombana (2009) confirm that the transition from boyhood to manhood among the majority of Xhosa-speaking groups was marked by initiation which entailed going to the bush for a period of time and that initiation involved circumcision and teachings on behaviour and respect, given to the boys by traditional authorities. In the bush, boys learnt about the physical, spiritual, psychological and social aspects of manhood. The importance each author gives to initiation differs. The psychiatrist Laubscher, for example, described male initiation as the “most important epoch in the life of the native living in the kraals” (1937: 113). He equated initiation to a second birth – the first birth being the physical birth or childbirth, the second birth being a symbolic birth into manhood, and the third being a birth into the spiritual world through death, when one is reborn into an ancestor. For Elliot (1987), the importance of initiation lay in that it “unites the boy with his spirit and soul.” For Soga (1932), it was because it “brings him in relation to his ancestral spirits.” According to LK Siwisa, a Xhosa elder, initiation allowed for the acceptance and conferring of responsibility on the initiates by the community who in turn accepted and respected the new status of the initiates (in Funani 1990). Mavundla sees initiation as “an extended elaborate process that not only involves the initiate but also his immediate and extended family as well as the community” (2009: 402). Siwisa who was himself initiated and Mavundla et al. (2009) who spoke to Xhosa men who have undergone the rites present an understanding of the purpose of male initiation that goes beyond the individual boy and places it in a wider context of the community. This broader articulation of the effect of initiation by those who have undergone the rites points to the relationships that sustain the practise and the interrelatedness of a man, his family (including the ancestors) and the community. It draws attention to the ways in which initiation entailed making a particular kind of man. This man was connected to his family and the community. During initiation boys were endowed with and made public their acceptance of the responsibilities of manhood. The community was there to confer responsibility, accept and thereafter, respect the declaration of manhood. From this perspective, initiation was rooted in social relations and its practice had as much to do with the boy undergoing the rites, as it did with the community agreeing to acknowledge the boy’s effort. Both the community and the boy (to some extent) acknowledged what was being conferred, accepted and respected. During circumcision the boy publicly uttered the acceptance of his new status – ‘ndiyindoda!’ to those present: his peers, the surgeon, the nurses and some of the initiates’ fathers. The initiation rites culminated in a coming out feast where the community gathered to acknowledge his change of status and their initiates were further advised on their new roles and responsibilities. The varying descriptions of the initiation rites reveal four broad teachings passed onto the initiates during the rites. These teachings prescribed proper conduct of persons in society. First, initiates were made aware of the duties and


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responsibilities they were to assume as men. The male initiates were told that as men they must respect and look after their family, especially the elders. They must take part in local meetings. They must work hard and try to improve their lives. They must not engage in violence (cf. Pauw 1964: 91). Second, the initiates were made aware of the roles and spaces accorded to people based on their social status. For example, the fathers of the initiates played an important role. In the case of illegitimate children, the mother’s father or mother’s brother assumed the role of the father. The fathers of the initiates provided the livestock and made the sacrifices to ancestors on behalf of their children. Fathers were also present at the circumcision. They inspected the circumcision cut and at the end of the rites, they advised the young men on their responsibilities. The importance of patriliny was emphasised, reinforcing the primacy of the power and authority of men and male elders. Mothers and female kin assumed a more nurturing role, making preparations for the initiation and cooking food for the initiates when they were allowed to eat. Third, the initiates were made aware of the social hierarchy. In Soga’s description of male initiation, during the ceremony at the end of the rites, the initiates were first advised by grandmothers,3 and later when it was time for men to speak, the elder males spoke first. In the feast marking the end of the male initiation rites, beer was first given to the elders, then to the men not classified as elders and finally, to the newly initiated men. Lastly, initiates were made aware of the connection between the creator (umdali), the ancestors and the initiate. The timing of both rituals was dependent on ancestors’ blessings which would ensure abundant crops. In the initiation rites before the circumcision, the initiate underwent a purification ritual where he confessed all his misdeeds to the creator to ensure that no harm befell him. Truth and honesty were encouraged, as was faith in the power of the ancestors and the creator. The initiate was also made aware of a world populated by malevolent people and spirits. He was taught to be constantly vigilant of the possibility that people might want to harm him and his family. He was made to be conscious that he needed charms and the blessings of the ancestors to protect him. Such actions bound an initiate to the world of the ancestors and spirits, reinforcing the idea that these entities were able to impact positively and negatively on the initiate’s life and that an initiate needed to honour such connections. Male initiates were taught proper conduct with regard to observing ubuntu and kuhlonipha. These rites were essentially about creating and upholding connections, vertically through lineage (ancestors, elders, fathers, mothers) and horizontally, with other amaXhosa as age mates (intanga) through being initiated together. Initiation rites were a vehicle for transmitting values about the social and gender hierarchy, gender roles and spaces and the belief in spirits and ancestors by making the connections visible. Male initiation rites prescribed the proper conduct of men through both what was said and the acts that were performed. Initiation was thus an essential tool in maintaining the gendered gerontocracy that placed power in the hands of male elders.

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Discussing initiation in the twenty-first century At the beginning of 2001, Take 5, a televised youth talk show, addressed the issue of whether initiation should be regulated and if so, how. The panel consisted of recent initiates, a traditional surgeon and a medical doctor. The discussion revolved around a recent episode of neglect where two initiates had died and the rest were admitted to hospital. Whilst most initiation schools claimed to admit a maximum of thirty initiates, this particular school had admitted one hundred and fifty initiates. The boys were allegedly beaten with hot iron rods, starved, and “psychologically blackmailed.” The television audience was told that each boy was made to pay R450 (at the time this was approximately GBP 37) plus a sheep, a goat, ten kilograms of maize (corn) meal, twenty litres of traditional beer and amahewu (watery porridge drink). Many of the initiates were young boys. Some had run away from home to join the initiation school. In presenting his case, the medical doctor appealed to potential initiates: firstly, to ensure they were in good health before they went to the bush; secondly, to insist that the traditional surgeon used a clean blade for the circumcision; and thirdly, to ensure that if there were any complications, the taboo on medical intervention would be disregarded and the initiate would go to the nearest hospital. The traditional surgeon addressed the audience saying that genuine traditional surgeons had hygienic, sterile practices and that potential initiates should beware of charlatans. He added that charlatans worked while under the influence of alcohol and were more likely to cause irreversible damage. Towards the end of the programme, recently initiated men commented on the importance of initiation adding that undergoing initiation had changed their lives. One recent initiate claimed that before going to the bush, he led the life of a thug and now he was reformed. This televised discussion of male initiation was exceptional in the restraint that the traditional surgeon and the biomedical doctor showed towards each other. Discussions between biomedical doctors and traditional surgeons have been hostile. These discussions usually revolved around two main points. The first was introducing safety measures into the practices in order to minimise possible complications for those being initiated. The changes proposed were that either potential initiates undergo a medical examination before going to the bush or a bio-medical doctor be present during the circumcision. It was also suggested that traditional surgeons should use a tara-clamp during circumcision to ensure a safer and cleaner cut. An additional safety concern was the increasing number of initiation schools led by inexperienced people whose practices put young males at risk of injury. The response of traditional surgeons to any of the suggestions was resolutely steadfast and uncompromising. Traditional surgeons repeatedly said that if initiates chose reputable and honest practitioners, injury or death could be avoided and medical regulation would not be needed. In response to the presence of a doctor during circumcision, traditional surgeons stated their unwillingness to have an


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outsider involved in the rites lest their ‘secrets’ be disclosed. The response of doctors was that they understood that there were physical, spiritual, educational and psychological aspects to initiation. They, therefore, did not oppose initiation per se but were suggesting that the rites be altered so that circumcision need not only happen with a traditional surgeon and in the bush where sterilisation and aftercare may be compromised. Traditional surgeons retorted that firstly, there was a traditional way of sterilising the tools. Secondly, that circumcision in the bush could only employ traditional methods. Thirdly, that if any alterations were made to the rites then the resulting ‘new’ men would not be accepted as ‘real’ men. A person described in the media as a ‘traditionalist’ was quoted as having said, “if initiation were a marathon, they [those initiated in the new way] would have taken steroids. With the old method you know your position. How are you going to be sure where you stand with the new method?” (Kretzmann 2001). Despite the traditional authorities’ statements to the contrary, these discussions exposed the existence of many practices and ways of running initiation schools. They drew attention to the existence of multiple and sometimes contradictory voices on traditional practice and tradition. They also exposed the rites as being without structure and changeable. The traditionalists’ insistence on uniformity in the face of poly-vocality portrayed them as stubborn, uncompromising and conservative. In effect the poly-vocality on what constitutes traditional practice allowed for traditionalists to arrive at an agreement on what was not traditional practice, namely anything involving bio-medical interference. The consensus over what was not acceptable practice left creative room for what was acceptable, allowing for the continuation of the variations in practice – something the Application of Health Standards in the Traditional Circumcision Act (no. 6 of 2001) aimed to minimise. Had the discussion been different, with traditional authorities reflecting on their experiences of undergoing the ritual during their youth, they would have had to acknowledge that there have always been variations in the practices of the rites. Furthermore, that over time some major changes have occurred in the practice of the rites. These include such changes as the timing of initiation. Initiation used to occur during May–June, the winter months, but due to demands placed on youth by schooling, initiation nowadays occurred during summer or winter school holidays – June to July and December to January. The materials that the initiation hut was built from have changed due to initiation now being practised in different locations. Historically, the initiation hut was built out of saplings and grass in the bush, whereas in the cities nowadays the huts are built on the periphery of the densely populated townships out of plastic and discarded materials. In the past ‘the bush’ was a place in the mountains far from any dwellings and away from the possibility of human contact. Today ‘the bush’ no longer retains its literal meaning. Instead it refers to a space far away from the possibility and temptations of interventions. It refers to a space that is ‘not home’. An initiate in the East London suburb of Amalinda built his

Making men


initiation hut on a patch of commonage just down the road from his home. The age of circumcision has also changed. In the past it used to be between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one. Recently, boys as young as ten years old in the rural areas have been reported to be going to the bush. This is because in the poor and marginalised areas, the lure of manhood through initiation still has currency. Despite the obvious changes described above and variation in the practices, the traditionalists claimed that the rites were a critical part of Xhosa tradition and that they had been practiced the same way since time immemorial. Furthermore, they claimed that the practice of the rites using the traditional method was essential to their cultural identity as amaXhosa. What was avoided was a discussion about the deeper significance of male initiation rites – what happens in the rites, what they make possible and the importance of their role in social relations.

Concluding remarks In the township of Nyanga East at the beginning of the twenty-first century, many adult men and women were unemployed. Parents had little material security to offer their children. Young people, whether they finished school or not, had a slim chance of gainful employment. By mobilising a strict distinction between boys and men, elders in post-apartheid South Africa were able to entrench a social order where they commanded respect because of their social rank as elder men. Since initiation entailed spending several weeks in ‘the bush’ under the guidance of male elders, it allowed for older men to instil certain principles. Undergoing initiation allowed production of a system where boys could become men and youth could become elders. It also taught young men to uphold the gendered gerontocracy where power lay in the hands of male elders. It created hope for those who underwent initiation that, one day, they too could expect to command utmost respect as male elders. The importance traditionalists placed on undergoing male initiation rites in post-apartheid South Africa enabled them to protect and ensure the reproduction of the gendered gerontocracy, which began to lose its power in the liberation struggle of the 1980s. If the practice of initiation rites was to cease, the power of male elders would be threatened. Thus by dictating that boys place their lives, bodies and sexuality in the hands of older men, initiation enabled older men to “re-establish the sense of order in which youth have respect for older generation” (Vincent 2008: 90). Male initiation also obligated initiated men to defend the gender and generational hierarchy and it allowed older men to expect obedience and respect from young men, women and children. That male initiation rites remained protected from the reaches of medicine or the law was therefore important for male elders who power is increasingly coming under threat from young males living in South Africa’s cities.


Nolwazi Mkhwanazi

Notes 1 In South Africa, the amaXhosa are the second largest ethnic group after the Zulu. IsiXhosa is spoken by 19.8% of the population. The amaXhosa are made up of the chiefdoms of the Gcaleka, Rharhabe, Thembu, Bomvana, Mpdondomise, and of the assimilated Mfengu chiefdoms which consist of the Bhaca, Bhele, Zizi, Hlubi and Quati. 2 The use of the terms ‘traditional’, ‘tradition’, ‘traditional authorities’, ‘modernists’, ‘culture’ and ‘cultural’ should all be in quotation marks throughout the text. However, the frequency with which they appear in this article has led me to omit the quotation marks for purposes of readability. 3 Grandmothers play an important role in the care of their grandchildren. If the mother was young when she gave birth or had to go back to school/work immediately after giving birth then it was common for grandmothers to look after their grandchildren.

References Carstens, P. 1982. “The socio-economic context of initiation ceremonies among two Southern African people.” Canadian Journal of African Studies 16 (3): 505–522. Elliot, A. 1987. The Xhosa: their traditional way of life. Cape Town: Struik. Erlank, N. 2000. “Gendered reactions to social dislocation and missionary activity in Xhosaland 1836–1847.” African Studies 59 (2): 205–227. Funani, L. S. 1990. Circumcision among ama-Xhosa: a medical investigation. Braamfontein: Skotaville. Goduka, I.n.d. African/indigenous philosophies: Legitimizing spiritually-centred wisdoms within the academy. Paper presented to the Australian indigenous education conference. April 2000. Hunter, M. 1936. Reaction to conquest: effects of contact with Europeans on the Pondo of South Africa. London: Oxford University Press. Kretzmann, S. 2001. “Equal rites for circumcision initiates.” Land and Rural Digest 19: 27–29. Laubscher, B. J. F. 1937. Sex, custom and psychopathology: a study of South African pagan natives. London: Routledge. Mavundla, T. R., F. G. Netswera, B. Bottoman and F. Toth. 2009. “Rationalization of Indigenous male circumcision as a sacred religious custom: health beliefs of Xhosa men in South Africa.” Journal of Transcultural Nursing 20 (4): 395–404. Mayer, P. 1971. (Second edition). Townsmen or tribesmen: conservatism and the process of urbanisation in a South African city. Cape Town: Oxford University Press. Ntombana, L. 2009. “Xhosa male initiation and teaching of moral values: an exploration of the role of traditional guardians in teaching the initiates: IKS in other contexts.” Indilinga African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems 8 (1): 73–84. Pauw, B. A. 1964. The second generation: a study of the family among urbanized Bantu in East London. Cape Town: Oxford University Press. Richards, A. 1982. Chisungu: a girl’s initiation ceremony among the Bemba of Zambia. London: Tavistock. Silverman, E. K. 2004. “Anthropology and Circumcision.” Annual Review of Anthropology 33: 419–445. Soga, J. H. 1932. The Ama-Xosa: life and customs. Lovedale: Lovedale Press. Turner, V. 1995. The ritual process. New York: Gruyter. Vincent, L. 2008. “Cutting tradition: the political regulation of traditional circumcision rites in South Africa’s liberal democratic order.” Journal of Southern African Studies 34 (1): 77–91.

2 SOCIAL NORMS, SOCIAL STRUCTURE AND LAW IN NEPAL Patriarchy, violence against women and the three-headed hydra1 Sanjeev Uprety

Introduction This study has made an attempt to analyse the nexus between patriarchy and violence against women by discussing three interrelated aspects of patriarchy in Nepal: social norms, social structure and law. Research findings show how these three aspects or the three heads of the hydra, to put it metaphorically – shape and reinforce each other rather than functioning as separate domains. In other words, social norms concerning what it means to be a man or a woman not only reinforce a greater presence of men in leadership positions in various public institutions – including the police, the courts and the media all of which are deeply involved in the criminal justice system concerning violence against women – but also impact the implementation of the law when it comes to cases of violence against women (VAW). Due to the interconnectedness of these three domains – the norms, structure and law – it is necessary to deal with them together in order to fight against VAW. This is to say that the only way to defeat the three-headed hydra of patriarchy lies in cutting off all three of its heads simultaneously. Current research shows that masculinity (like femininity) is not singular but plural. A number of masculinities studies scholars such as R.W. Connell (1995), Benjamin (2001), Broom (2004) and Michael Kimmel (2008) have argued that there is no universal model of masculinity; rather, there are multiple masculinities shaped by a variety of factors including class, ethnicity, institutional and political location, as well as patterns of consumption. However, the dominant forms of masculinities that circulate within the social fabric repress these plural masculinities and promote only the version that is associated with domination, aggression and violence. Since many men internalise such traditional forms of masculinity while growing up, they often display dominance and aggression during their interactions with women. Many men also feel a sense of psychological lack because they are


Sanjeev Uprety

unable to approximate the model of ideal masculinity traditionally associated with physical strength, economic power, emotional control and sexual capacity. They try to deal with such a sense of lack by displaying violent behaviour – physical or psychological– towards women, children, transgender subjects and other men who are in lower social and economic positions. At the same time, the violent behaviour of men – either physical or psychological and emotional – cannot be reduced to the issue of psychological lack. Such violence is often condoned and legitimised by a perpetual circulation of prevailing social norms but also by the existing social structure within which the majority of men enjoy more privilege and power than most women and transgender subjects. Such a nexus of social structure and social norms, in turn, shapes both the making and the practice of law. Since masculinity studies is a new area in Nepal, a lot needs to be done in order to understand various aspects of Nepali masculinities, including their relation to caste and class, as well as their multiple historical and political manifestations. However, studies done by scholars such as Pratyoush Onta, Jeevan R. Sharma and Matt Maycock have prepared the base for further research concerning Nepali masculinities. Pratyoush Onta’s work concerning the construction of Bir (brave) Nepali history, though it does not directly deal with the issues concerning masculinities, points to historical imperatives that might have shaped the construction of Nepali masculinities (1996). Sanjeev Uprety’s study entitled “Masculinity and mimicry: Ranas and Gurkhas” is another example of a study that analyses Nepali masculinities from a historical perspective (2011). Other significant studies include Matt Maycock’s work regarding the masculinities of kamaiyas (bonded labourers) living in the Kailali district of far-west Nepal (2012) and Jeevan R. Sharma’s work concerning Maoist masculinities. In recent years the SANAM (South Asian Network to Address Masculinities) fellowship program has resulted in some masculinity-related research in Nepal. It includes Radha Paudel’s study (2012) analyses on the harassment of women by men in the public transport system of Kathmandu and Babu Ram Poudel’s study (2012) which analyses the impact of masculinities on cases pertaining to gender-based violence in Dhanusha district of Nepal. These studies illuminate some important aspects concerning Nepali masculinities. They show how masculinity underlies institutional (political parties) and public spaces (public transport), how caste and sexuality shape people’s perceptions concerning masculinity and how social stigmas are generated via those perceptions. At the same time, since masculinities are plural, fluid and take multiple forms depending on social, political and economic contexts, a lot more needs to be done in order to understand various trajectories of Nepali masculinities, including the relationship between masculinity and gender-based violence. It is hoped that the current research will contribute to this area.

Methodology This research has used both the quantitative (administered questionnaire) as well as qualitative (life history) methodologies. The questionnaire was administered in a

Social norms, social structure and law in Nepal


sample size of seventy, and included men, women and transgender people from the Kathmandu valley. The sample included people from various walks of life including those working in NGOs and in the legal profession, in addition to drivers and their helpers in public vehicles, plus two graduate students, college-level teachers, people from the transgender community, known perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence, men in police custody and manual workers in the marketplace. These locations were chosen with the aim of representing people who either perpetrate violence against women (known perpetrators, men in custody); who witness such violence (marketplace, public vehicles, educational institutions); who fight against it (like the NGO workers involved in the Occupy Baluwatar Movement);2 or who deal with such violence as part of their professional life (paralegal and NGO professionals). In addition to the surveys, ten audio interviews were conducted. Of these, there were six in-depth life-history interviews seeking to understand the behaviour of men in various walks of life. Apart from these, four more interviews were conducted to elicit the responses of people who have to deal with the issues of gender violence on a daily basis in their capacities as lawyers, policemen or LGBTI activists.

Limitations The current research might be shaped by the urban context in which it was conducted. The urban context of the study might have shaped some of the liberal responses encountered during the research. Further research into the rural areas of Nepal outside the valley might revise some of the findings and conclusions of the present study. Similarly, since the focus was on masculinities in relation to gender-based violence more men (71.42%) than women (14.28%) or transgender people (14.28%) were included in the study. The main focus was on how men experience their masculinities and how certain internalised norms concerning what it means to

Men/Boys (50)

Sample for Life History (6) Women/Girls (10)



Source: compiled by authors

Transgender people (10)


Sanjeev Uprety

be a man lead them towards violence. For this reason, more men were included in the sampling process. At the same time, women and transgenders, too, were included in the sampling process with the aim of understanding alternative understandings of masculinities. While the latter aim was not the main goal of the research, it was felt that such a counter perspective was necessary to shed light into the overall social processes involving the production and circulation of masculinities. A wider sampling involving more women and transgender subjects might help to understand the perspectives of women and transgender people from a broader perspective. The study was done around certain specific institutional or public locations where gender-based violence is witnessed, perpetrated or dealt with, including NGOs, police stations, educational institutions, the legal profession, public vehicles and the marketplace. Sampling done in other locations, such as factory outlets, restaurants, agricultural work spaces and so on, might yield not only a different representation in terms of class, education, age, caste and gender, but also slightly different perspectives concerning masculinities in relation to gender-based violence.

Social norms: persistence of old stereotypes While the post-2009 politico-social scenario of Nepal shows some liberal attitudes regarding gender this does not mean, however, that older stereotypes regarding masculinities and femininities have ceased to function. Traditionally masculinities are associated with physical attributes such as height, physical strength, a muscular body and fertility. Such associations were reproduced in the survey by a high percentage of the respondents, when given the option of selecting among the listed attributes, chose height and physical strength (45.71%), a muscular body (34.28%) and fertility or the ability to impregnate a woman (32.85%) as major attributes of masculinities. Similarly, regarding the non-physical attributes of masculinities, the majority of the participants chose rationality/intellectuality (62.85%), breadwinning ability (45.71%), starting a family through marriage (40.00%), political affiliation (34.28%) and having more than one girlfriend (11.42%). Such associations linking masculinities with physical or non-physical attributes like physical strength, rationality, intellectuality and breadwinning ability merely reproduce the traditional ideology where men are seen not only as being physically stronger in comparison to women, but also as more rational, more intelligent and with a greater capacity for making money for the family than women. In addition, the survey shows that most respondents still associate masculinities with aggression. Thus 41.42% of all participants completely agree with the statement that men are naturally aggressive while 34.28% show partial agreement. By contrast, only 15.71% completely disagree with the idea that there is a natural connection between masculinities and aggression while 8.57% show partial disagreement. The idea that aggression is primarily the domain of men was reconfirmed when the respondents were confronted with another statement: if a girl beats up the man or humiliates him publicly, its takes away from his

Social norms, social structure and law in Nepal


8.58% Completely agree Partially Agree 27.14% 51.42%

Completely Disagree Partially Disagree

12.86% FIGURE 2.2

If a girl beats up a man or humiliates him publicly, it takes away from his

manhood Source: compiled by authors

manhood. Out of the seventy respondents in the Kathmandu valley thirty-six (51.42%) completely agreed with this statement and nine (12.85%) partially agreed to it while only nineteen (27.14%) recorded complete disagreement and six people (8.57%) said they partially disagreed. This only shows that most men feel that they must put up a show of “masculine aggression” which comes to them naturally, and that their masculinity will be undermined if they become victims of aggression themselves, especially if this aggression comes from women.

Internalisation of patriarchal social norms: women and transgender subjects The research showed that just like men, women and transgendered subjects, too, tend to internalise traditional concepts concerning masculinities. Thus, while 48% of men in the Kathmandu valley said that height and physical strength are the major physical characteristics of masculinities, 30% of women respondents echoed the same views. Similarly, while 64% of men chose rationality/intellectuality and 48% chose breadwinning ability as the crucial markers of masculinities, 50% of women echoed the same views regarding rationality/intellectuality and 30% in relation to breadwinning ability. This shows that ideology is not limited to a particular gender, and that similar ideological beliefs can shape the subjectivities of both men and women. This connection between social norms and gendered subjectivity was even more pronounced in the case of transgender subjects. A number of gender theorists, including Judith Butler have maintained that transgender performances disrupt normative ideas concerning masculinities and femininities (1993). While this might be true, the research showed that a number of transgender subjects might perpetrate the same old ideas concerning masculinities and femininities rather than disrupting those ideas in their everyday lives. Thus 50% of the third-gender respondents in the Valley said that height and strength are the major physical characteristics of masculinities, while 70% chose rationality/intellectuality and 60% selected breadwinning ability as the major non-physical attributes of the same.


Sanjeev Uprety

What is interesting is that the percentage of transgender subjects who chose these attributes was higher than that of male respondents who had selected the same. Thus although only 48% of men in the Valley had said height and strength were the major markers of masculinities, 50% of TG people said the same thing; similarly, while only 64% of men had selected rationality/intellectuality as the major non-physical attribute of masculinities 70% of TG subjects echoed the same views. The same pattern was repeated in the case of another non-physical attribute (breadwinning ability) that was rated highly by all respondents: compared to only 48% of men, 60% of TG subjects said that this was a crucial characteristic of masculinities. Examination of the responses to the statement “men are naturally aggressive” showed a similar pattern: while 74% of men in the Valley completely (42%) or partially (32%) agreed with this statement, 60% of women showed a similar agreement with 40% showing complete agreement and 20% recording partial agreement. This merely shows that while modern Nepali women, especially in the urban areas, are trying to break away from the traditional ideologies concerning gender, a majority of them still hold onto the same social norms as their male counterparts. It is possible that such feminine internalisations concerning gender might be even more pronounced in the rural areas of Nepal. A study of the responses of TG subjects concerning this statement merely reconfirmed the observation that was made earlier: while TG performances might

MEN 10% Completely Agree 42%


Partially Agree Completely Disagree Partially Disagree



Completely Agree 40%

Partially Agree Completely Disagree


Partially Disagree 20% FIGURE 2.3

Men are naturally aggressive

Source: compiled by authors

Social norms, social structure and law in Nepal


disrupt the traditional notions concerning masculinities and femininities, many TG subjects continue to display the same old attitudes concerning what it means to be a man or a woman in their everyday lives. Thus 80% TG respondents in the Valley agreed with the statement “men are naturally aggressive” either completely (40%) or partially (40%); a percent that was higher than that of both men (74%) and women (60%) who had agreed with the same statement.

Social norms, masculinities and sexuality The study also showed the persistence of certain ideologies concerning masculinities in relation to sexuality. 78.56% of the respondents in the Valley, for example, agreed either completely (45.71%) or partially (32.85%) that men are by nature sexually polygamous and tend to have more than one sexual partner. In comparison, only 21.42% of the respondents disagreed with such statement, with 17.14% disagreeing completely and 4.28% showing partial disagreement. Similarly, 60% of the respondents in the Valley either agreed completely (40%) or partially (20%) with the statement “a boy/man can have an affair with several girls simultaneously as long as he can hide it from others.” In contrast, only 39.99% disagreed with this perception, with 32.85% disagreeing completely and 7.14% disagreeing partially. There were significant differences concerning men and women when it came to social expectations concerning sexual behaviour. For example, 65.71% respondents in the Valley agreed either completely (40%) or partially (25.71%) when asked if a man or a boy can pay for sex or go to a sex worker to gain experience in making love. But a similar question concerning a girl or woman yielded different results. Thus when confronted with the statement that a girl or a woman cannot pay for having sex with others 72.85% of the participants agreed either completely (50%) or partially (22.85%). In other words, while the majority of the participants (65.71%) agreed that it was okay for boys to pay for sex, the idea that girls or 4.29%

Completely Agree

17.14% 45.71%

Partially Agree Completely Disagree



Partially Disagree

Men are by nature sexually polygamous/tend to have more than one sexual

partner Source: compiled by authors


Sanjeev Uprety


Completely Agree 40% 32.85%

Partially Agree Completely Disagree Partially Disagree



A boy/man can have a clandestine affair with several girls simultaneously

Source: compiled by authors

women cannot pay for having sex was endorsed by an even greater majority (72.85%), thus representing two totally opposite social expectations regarding men and women concerning sexual behaviour. A similar social divide also manifested when it came to the question of pre-marital sex, with the majority of the participants in the Valley saying it was all right for a boy or a man to have sexual relations with girls before marriage while simultaneously rejecting similar freedom where women or girls were concerned. Thus 65.70% of the


Completely Agree 40% 30%

Partially Agree Completely Disagree Partially Disagree



Completely Agree 18.57%

Partially Agree 50%


Completely Disagree Partially Disagree

A man/boy can pay for sex or go to a sex worker to gain experience in making love. Meanwhile, a girl/woman cannot pay for having sex with others


Source: compiled by authors

Social norms, social structure and law in Nepal


participants agreed either completely (41.42%) or partially (24.28%) that it was okay for boys or men to have a sexual relationship with girls or women before marriage. In contrast, only 45.71% agreed either completely (18.57%) or partially (27.14%) with the statement that it is okay for a girl or a woman to have a pre-marital sexual relationship. Also, while only 34.27% of the total participants disagreed either completely (22.85%) or partially (11.42%) with the statement that it is okay for boys or men to have pre-marital sex, the numbers shot up when it came to rejecting premarital sex concerning women. Thus 54.28% said that they either completely (47.14%) or partially (7.14%) disagree with the statement that it is all right for a girl or a woman to have sex before marriage. In other words, the findings reveal that there are different social expectations concerning men and women when it comes to sexual behaviour. Since most people consider men naturally polygamous, there is a greater acceptance when men or boys go to sex workers, or when they engage in pre-marital or extramarital sexual activities. This not only makes them more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases, which they can pass onto their partners thus affecting the reproductive health of the family, but also makes them more susceptible to the

(a) 11.43%

Completely Agree 41.42% 22.86%

Partially Agree Completely Disagree Partially Disagree


(b) 7.14%


Completely Agree Partially Agree Completely Disagree



Partially Disagree

(a) It is okay for a boy/man to have a sexual relationship with girls before marriage (b) It is okay for a girl/woman to have sexual relationships with boys/men before marriage


Source: compiled by authors


Sanjeev Uprety

temptations of adultery. This in turn can lead to mental suffering on the part of their wives/partners who are expected to either accept or to forgive the deviations of their husbands because of the social perceptions that men are naturally polygamous just as women are tolerant and forgiving by nature.

Social norms and contradictory masculine identities Life history and other interviews with professionals working in the field reconfirmed most of the findings of the survey, while also bringing forth new perspectives to understand the relationship between masculinities and violence against women. First and foremost, they revealed the fact that contemporary, especially urban, Nepali identities are contradictory rather than stable, and that the same person might show both gender-violent and gender-sensitive behaviour at various moments of his life. The life-history interviews of Bijaya Rayamajhi, an unemployed middle-aged man living at the Taudaha Lake in the outskirts of the valley clearly showed such contradictory behaviour concerning gender. Bijaya Rayamajhi, 54 years of age, is of the middle-class Kshatriya caste and has been living at Taudaha Lake for nearly twenty years. He grew up in the eastern hills of Nepal, in a family that was very patriarchal and where women did all the housework. There were great expectations of the young men of the family to study hard, to develop a successful career, to make money and to raise the status of the family. There were no similar expectations of young women in the family. They were not even sent to school because the elders felt that they would leave the family after marriage and go to a different kul or family with a different surname. While he has worked as part-time actor in Nepali films and TV, Bijaya has remained mostly unemployed throughout his life. His wife Kumud teaches in a public school and is the main breadwinner of the family. They have two children at university who, according to Bijaya, are doing extremely well there. In his daily life Bijaya displays various forms of gender-sensitive behaviour. He engages in domestic duties like cooking and cleaning. Also, he does not believe in beating kids, thinks child marriage and dowry systems are wrong, and is okay with women taking initiative in matters concerning sex and romance. He is even fine with his daughter having pre-marital sex as long as she does it secretly and safely, despite that fact that it might damage the reputation of the family. During the interview Bijaya said that his liberal attitudes are due to his education (he got his bachelor’s in Darjeeling), his love of reading and his subsequent migration to Kathmandu. He also admitted that he would have been a different man had he remained in the village with its patriarchal mindset. As the interview progressed, however, it became obvious that despite his modern, urban liberalism, Bijaya holds a number of traditional stereotypes concerning the attributes of masculinities and femininities as can also be seen in the answers to the following questions:

Social norms, social structure and law in Nepal Q:


Can men and women be equal? Are they equal? This is not possible, not according to nature. Their bodies are different, and so are their abilities. Women have less physical ability then men. Even their mental abilities are inferior. Some people might say that Nepali women are below men socially or economically because of patriarchy. But take other nations: from sports to politics, music and science you see mostly men in all domains. This is because nature has made men more powerful than women. Q: How are men more powerful than woman in terms of mental abilities? BIJAYA: Their power of memory is less strong than that of men. Also, women have less reasoning and logical power. Men lead not only in the material domains but even in the field of spiritualism: Kabir, Mahavir, Buddha, Jesus . . . they were all men. And those who preach in the religious Indian TV channels are mostly men. It is difficult for women to think deeply about any subject. Mozart, Beethoven, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Socrates, Aristotle, Plato – they were all men. All this shows that nature has made women weaker than men. Q: Are there some ‘womanly’ qualities that men do not have in equal degree and kind? BIJAYA: Yes! Nature has made women sahansheel (tolerant). They need to remain patient and bear the discomfort of pregnancy for nine months. Even after giving birth they need to breastfeed the baby for months. This requires lots of patience. Even in animals and birds you can see the same thing. Nature made women sahansheel, less aggressive, less prone to anger, and with a greater capacity to forgive in order to give continuity to existence. Q: Have you had quarrels with your wife over your twenty plus years in a relationship? Have you come to blows ever? A: Never. No blows even a single time. But we have had minor quarrels. Q: What type of quarrels? Who starts it usually? BIJAYA: We don’t quarrel these days because I stopped drinking alcohol last year, but we used to have quarrels before when I was still drinking every day. Later, when she found out about my extra-marital affairs, then, too, she quarrelled. Q: Did you have extra-marital affairs? How many? BIJAYA: Four so far! But I had only one extra-marital affair at a time. With two of those women I had very short flings but with the next two I had longer relationships: three and half years with one, and four years with another. Of these last two one was from Jhapa, and another from Taudaha, the village where I live now. I am thinking of having another affair, but I don’t have any money for it. If you have an affair you should take the women around. You should take them to see places. We should not only think of how to get favours from women; we should also give something in return. I cannot give them money. So, I try to take them to places they have not visited. Also, you need to feed them well during these trips. This is my dharma. BIJAYA:


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What is interesting is Bijaya’s utter lack of sensitivity concerning his wife’s feelings when he spoke of his extra-marital affairs. This was not surprising, however, when we consider that most people think men are naturally polygamous, as also revealed by the survey. Since most people still think that it is okay for married men to have affairs unlike married women, Bijaya did not feel anything amiss when he talked of his extra-marital flings in the same breath while positioning himself as a liberal modern man with gender-sensitive attitudes. This only shows that gendered identities are contradictory rather than stable; a fact that was also highlighted by the life-history interviews of Chandra Nagarkoti and Bhesh Raj Nepal whom the researcher met in Hanuman Dhoka and Baneshwar police stations respectively. Among these Chandra is from a working-class background. Chandra left school after the third grade, while Bhesh Raj completed his secondary school education.

Law and custom: in between spaces The interviews of Chandra Nagarkoti and Bhesh Raj Nepal, the first charged with rape and the second of attempted rape, also showed that many men think and behave within an in-between space shaped by both law and custom. While such men have some knowledge of ethical or state laws concerning certain activities that are understood as violent, they might continue to engage in those activities due to received ideologies that men are naturally aggressive and polygamous. Chandra is twenty-five and used to work in a restaurant as a waiter/barman and part-time dancer before he was charged with raping a waitress from the same restaurant. Since Chandra was born into a very poor family (his father was a wage labourer) he was forced to give up his studies after the third grade and began earning money for the family. He then left his village and started living in a rented room to work in various restaurants and bars of Kathmandu. He also met and married a Tamang woman living in the same building in which Chandra had a one-room apartment. She later migrated to Kuwait for work a year ago against his wishes and they are not in touch following her departure. Following this, Chandra has been taking care of their now nine-year old daughter by himself: cooking meals for her, washing her clothes and taking her to school – thus displaying perfect gender-sensitive behaviour. Chandra Nagarkoti was handcuffed when the researcher met him at the police station. The charge of rape that was levelled against him pointed at gender violence of the worst sort. At the same time, the interview revealed a hard-working man who was extremely caring when it came to his daughter Q:

Tell me about this girl, the one whom you are accused of raping. How did you meet her? What was she like? CHANDRA: She had just joined the restaurant at Durbar Marg where I was working. She was from outside the Valley and did not know much about the city. Two

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days before the incident she sent me a text message asking if I had eaten lunch. I thought she was interested in me. That day the minibus (organised by the restaurant owner) did not come and she called me asking how she should get to the restaurant. I suggested that we could go together if she comes to my room. She came around 5 p.m. and we began talking. I lost control after a while and tried to touch her. (You should realise that I have been living without my wife for more than a year and half after she migrated to Kuwait). She kept saying no in the beginning but then got excited and did not protest and so we had sex with mutual consent. After the act she behaved normally, and we took public transport together to reach the restaurant. I sat in the hall, while she disappeared behind. Q:

What happened after that? After some time, they called me to the kitchen where she was sitting with other girls from the restaurant, weeping and accusing me of raping her. I said we both consented to having sex, but no one believed me. Soon, police came and took me to Durbar Marg police station. There they beat me up and stripped me to check if there were any signs of struggle on my body. They brought me to Hanuman Dhoka prison after that. I have been here for the last twenty-two days. How could I have raped her? If I had really tried to rape her she could have shouted which she never did. I think one man cannot rape a woman. You need at least three or four men to rape a girl. One has to grab her hands, another would have to put his hand over her mouth to stop her from screaming. And there must be wounds or signs of violence on the body. But none of this was true in this case.



Was she scared of you? Is it possible that she didn’t cry out because she was scared? (Long pause. No answer.) Q: Is a woman’s ‘no’ always a ‘no’? How is one to find out? CHANDRA: If the girl likes you she might say yes immediately when you ask her. Some of them say no at the beginning, but then agree if you continue to excite her by playing with her body. Some of them might even take two or three months to agree and want to fall in love before having sex. 3 Q: Who is a real marda? And what about namarda? CHANDRA: I don’t know much about this really. In my view a man is a real man who works for the family, who does good things and does not break the law. I was a marda till last month. Yes, I was poor, but I was taking care of my daughter. Now look at this (points to the handcuffs). Now I have probably become a namarda as I am outside the law. The interview with Chandra revealed that he thinks it is okay to touch the body of a woman even if she keeps saying no. His argument was that if the girl gets


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excited later and agrees to have sex, the man should not be held accountable for his initial transgression. While Chandra agreed with the survey question that it is an act of violence to have sex with a woman against her wishes, he was simultaneously directed by the customary perception that a man should make the first move in matters related to sex and romance, and that it was okay for a man to be aggressive in these matters despite refusals by a woman. This is because if a man does not act aggressively in such matters he might be considered, not only by others but also by the woman involved in the matter, as a namarda,

Social structure and limitations of law A similar attitude was also shown by Bheshraj Nepal, a forty-three-year-old lower-middle-class man charged of attempting to rape a lati (a woman who stutters, or cannot speak properly) whom the researcher met at New Baneshwor police custody. Bheshraj claims to have lost his nerve at the last moment when feelings of guilt overcame him (he did not actually rape her) as he thought of his wife who was returning to Nepal in a couple weeks from Dubai after working there for a few years. The officer in charge had shown Bheshraj’s file to the researcher before the latter interviewed Bheshraj. In the file was Bheshraj’s statement confessing his attempt to rape the speech-impaired woman. Q:

How were you charged for attempted rape? What exactly happened? I am surprised at the charge. I used to eat in a restaurant on the ground floor of a house. Later I began living in the same house after gharpetibaini (landowner’s sister) said that she would give me a room for just 2500 rupees per month. There was also a cabin near the restaurant and, as the dashain festival was approaching, people began playing cards in the cabin. I used to watch them play. She (lati) used to watch us. She was supposed to be a distant relative of the landowner’s sister. She also used to serve us food in the restaurant. She could not speak properly. Q: But what led to the rape charges? What actually happened that day? BHESH RAJ: I had spent the entire day playing cards. In the evening I went up to my room. It was kind of hot. I took off my shirt and then later pants after wrapping a towel around my waist. It seems that she was in my room [he was vague about whether she was already in the room when he reached there or came afterwards] to collect cups from the restaurant. Since she cannot speak properly and does not understand well I asked her in English. “Why?” Then I asked her to go, again in English. At that time, I saw a man in white clothes through the window. He started shouting. Soon a lot of people started shouting. They came up and confronted me. But I had not done anything. I told them to check her body and to see for themselves that I hadn’t raped her. No person can be harmed by a poison that he or she has not consumed. Q: According to the police officer in charge at New Baneshwor Police station you are charged with attempted rape. He also said that your initial statement was BHESH RAJ:

Social norms, social structure and law in Nepal


that you wanted to have sex with her, but later felt guilty when you thought of your wife and family and changed your mind. Is this true? BHESH RAJ (TAKEN ABACK): Oh . . . is that what it says in my statement? Sometimes it is natural to feel emotional like that, especially when one’s wife is away. But I was telling her to go in English. I didn’t even touch her. I just heard people shouting through the window. It is possible that I made a mistake too. They can test her body. Q: Do your wife or children know about this? BHESH RAJ: No, they don’t know anything. I don’t want them to know. My wife is coming from Dubai. I want to get out of prison before she does. Please trust me. If you spread my story around in the newspapers or the media, it won’t be nice of you. Q: Were you drinking alcohol that day? BHESH RAJ: Yes, right from the morning. Q: What is the ethnicity of the women you are accused of trying to rape? BHESH RAJ: The landowner’s bahini [sister] is a Khadka. The lati I think must be either a Gurung or a Magar. As the researcher came out of the police station he was met by two people, a man and a woman, who had come to try to convince the police officer to free Bhesh Raj. Further inquiries revealed that they were trying to strike a compromise, probably by giving money to the victim. Later, the researcher learned that Bhesh Raj was set free after the victim withdrew her charges. This points to the socioeconomic advantage that the perpetrator of violence enjoyed in relation to his victim: he belonged to the lower middle class whereas she was from a working-class background; he had received education up to the School Leaving Certificate level while she was illiterate; he could utter English words while she could only stutter, and he was an upper-caste Bahun whereas she belonged to the minority caste. Such a mismatch in power relations cannot be ignored when we study gender-based violence. While not all men in greater positions of power commit violence against those who have less power, there is always a possibility that power may be misused. And as the case shows, there is a greater chance of the perpetrator escaping punishment if he is more powerful – economically, socially or culturally – than the victim. This observation is also supported by the research findings that more people from a lower income and educational background suffer sexual violence when compared to those who are from higher income and educational brackets. Such a mismatch in power relations may lead some people to believe that they can get away with minor sexual infringements. In the opinion of Bhesh Raj, for example, rape was a major crime whereas attempted rape was not; it was a crime that could be forgiven if attempted by a man living without his wife upon a stuttering, uneducated woman. In other words, like Chandra Nagarkoti discussed earlier, Bhesh Raj’s actions, too, happened in an in-between space suspended between law and custom. While he knew that rape was an act of violence that


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was legally punishable, he still attempted it because he thought this much was permissible according to custom as well as the social structures supporting that custom. The subsequent events leading to the withdrawal of the case merely proved him right.

Law, social norms and discrimination The interviews with lawyers like Meera Dhungana and Shashi Adhikary who have fought important legal battles concerning women’s rights, showed that it is difficult for women, especially those who have been victims of violence, to obtain justice because of various factors: discriminatory laws, slowness of the legal process, the persistence of patriarchal social norms and a predominance of men in the justice system. Meera Dhungana, for example, said that despite some positive changes in recent years, men and women are still not equal in the eyes of Nepalese law. You have been working in the legal field for a long time. Some positive laws have come into being in the last few years concerning the rights of women. And yet, many women are still finding it hard to gain easy and equal access to law. What is the reason behind this? MEERA DHUNGANA: This is because there is still discrimination in the legal system . . . and women continue to be discriminated in terms of property rights. It is true that the current law assures birthright to women concerning property rights, but they can enjoy that right only if they get property via anshabanda or the legal division of parental property before they get married. In other words, if a woman already has her share of parental property before she gets married, she does not have to return it after marriage. But if she does not have property at the time of marriage, she cannot even claim it later. Sons don’t have to face similar discrimination. Q: Can this lead to violence? How? MEERA DHUNGANA: Because of the legal and social systems according to which women have to go to their husband’s house after marriage, they become dependent upon their husbands. She can gain independence only if she can enjoy continuous property rights. Sons can exercise their property rights continuously from the time of birth to death. But the daughter has to begin all over again when she marries and goes to the boy’s house. Her property right stops in relation to her parental home and begins again in relation to her husband’s home. There is no continuity of property rights as far as women are concerned. Even the interim constitution of 2063 has not been able to establish equality in this matter. Any right should be continuous. When the right is broken somewhere this can lead to discrimination and that discrimination leads to violence. Q:

Both Dhungana and Adhikary stressed, however, that the law was only part of the problem, and the main obstacle to gender justice were the patriarchal social norms that pervaded the mindset of the people who were in law implementing agencies.

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Will women have equal access to justice if all laws are made totally nondiscriminatory? MEERA DHUNGANA: It will be difficult even then because of the power of patriarchal norms and the thought process of men who occupy high positions in the institutions that are supposed to safeguard justice. But if we have nondiscriminatory laws that will create a ground from which one can protest, fight or spread awareness. SHASHI ADHIKARY: It is difficult for women to get an equal access to law under present circumstances. It does not matter whether men belong to the implementing agencies, political parties or civil society – most of them have negative attitudes. Even if there is a severe case of violence against women, their first response is to tell the women to forgive their partners and reconcile. Some positive rules have come. The eleventh amendment was one such positive step as it established equal property rights for men and women. But similar change has not transpired in the attitudes of people. The mindsets of many men who are in the corridors of power and in governmental agencies remain the same. Other interviews conducted during the research also showed how the mass media affect the contemporary associations between masculinity and aggressivity with Dewan Rai and Netra Acharya (the two journalists who were also involved in Occupy Baluwatar movement fighting for gender justice in Nepal) saying that the influence of Hollywood and Bollywood films reinforces the traditional ideology that a man should be macho, and also the idea that there is a natural connection between masculinity and aggression. What are the social perceptions concerning marda and namarda, And your own views regarding this? DEWAN RAI: When I was growing up the Rambo films came along. Those films promoted the idea that a real marda is a person who has a muscular body. Hindi films also promote the idea that a real man must be strong and muscular. In Bollywood films there are repeated references to the question as to who is a real marda and who is a namarda. Such films reinforce the idea that a real man is violent, aggressive and muscular. Personally, I don’t believe in all this. I had a different definition of masculinity even when I was growing up. I always thought traditional definitions concerning marda and namarda were fallacious. I always thought muscles do not always make a man. Knowledge is more important. Q:

Interviews also showed that traditional social norms concerning men and women pervade most social fields, including legal and media sectors. Shashi Adhikary, for example, admitted the fact that “many lawyers –both men and women – suffer from gender blindness” and suggested that “there should be a compulsory course on gender in the Nepal judicial academy.” Dewan Rai, a senior journalist


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working for The Kathmandu Post similarly admitted that there is massive gender insensitivity in the field of media. Q:

There is a perception that there is a lot of gender insensitivity among those who are in media. Is this true? If yes, why? Journalists know a lot about gender equality and so on, don’t they? DEWAN RAI: Most of the people in the media are not well educated. There are no minimum educational standards for joining the media. And most of them don’t have multicultural awareness. They don’t have any knowledge of sociology and don’t understand know human selves are socially constructed. In recent times some educated people have entered the field. But the journalists of the older generation keep on passing their “wisdom” onto them. Journalists hardly raise issues concerning women’s empowerment. A few days ago, a list of First Past the Post (FPTP) candidates for upcoming constituent assembly elections was made public. The interim constitution ensures a 33% representation of women in all social bodies. Despite this there are only 10% of women on the FPTP list. But the media is not raising a voice against this. The field of media is populated by men. . . and editors and reporters are remaining silent.

Social norms, law and social structure: public and private domains Dewan Rai’s comments stressed not only the issue of social norms, but also pointed to the bare fact that most public institutions and professions are largely populated by men, especially so in the leadership positions. What adds to the problem is that not only are men in “leadership positions” in the social institutions but also within the family unit, with women doing most of the household chores and men performing breadwinning roles. Women are thus doubly disadvantaged, both within the private space of the family and the public space of wage labour. Such disadvantage experienced by women in their daily lives has deep implications for matters related to gender justice as was also suggested by Meera Dhungana in relation to the issue of marital rape. Q:

What do you think about the law concerning marital rape? There is a law about it, but it is hardly exercised. This is because even if a woman decides to file a case against marital rape, she still has to go back and live with the same husband, in his house, while the case is ongoing. Following this, he might scold or beat her further for filing the case against him. She also has to take care of the kids as men often don’t share child-rearing duties. For this reason, she is totally dependent upon her husband. How can the marital rape law be exercised under such circumstances? Q: What is the punishment for marital rape? MEERA DHUNGANA: The husband who perpetrates marital rape can only be imprisoned for three to six months (as opposed to general rape cases when the victimiser can MEERA DHUNGANA:

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be imprisoned up to fifteen years). One might ask why is there such a mismatch in the law? The answer is that those who make the law are men. Violence often happens within the house. A woman might think that the space of the home is where she is secure. But what is she to do when it is within the home that she experiences violence? Q: Are institutions such as the police force and legal courts gender friendly for women? MEERA DHUNGANA: No. For the simple reason that there are so few women in those institutions. When Babu Ram Bhattarai was prime minister a law was passed saying 1000 new women would be given entry into the police force. That never happened. The law also says that there should be 33% of women in all governmental bodies. But in the FPTP list for the 2013 CA elections there are just 10% of women, that is just 1% more than what it was in the 2008 CA elections. Dhungana also argued that after the re-establishment of the house of representatives in 2063 a number of clauses were passed: 33% women’s representation in every state organ; citizenship under the mother’s name; an end to all violence against women; and equal rights in relation to parental property. All this was passed with the agreement of all political parties. But after the andolan was over and things settled down it was back to the old ways. It shows that all that was mere posturing, they wanted to show how liberal and modern they were. Interviews with lawyers such as Meera Dhungana and Shashi Adhikary further revealed the problems women have to face as they seek justice after being victims of violence. When they approach the police, for instance, they often have to deal with male members of the police force telling them to resolve their differences with their husbands. Shashi Adhikary pointed to the fact that in earlier days, women used to compromise and suffer silently as there were no laws to protect them. Now they know that there are laws, but when they try to gain access to those laws it does not bring any change in their situation. And in some cases, they might have to suffer even more after they return to their husband’s houses following consultations at the police station. The husbands might take advantage of such a situation and threaten or beat them for reporting them to the police. Adhikary argued further that this can lead to frustration and total breakdown. All this shows that the problem of law implementation is directly related to the problem of social structure, including its various public (police stations and courts for instance) and private (family) institutions, in which men enjoy a greater position of power compared to women. Further interactions with Shashi Adhikary and Dewan Rai clearly pointed at this nexus of social structure and law. Q:

How strong is the presence of women in the justice system? In the justice system men outnumber women by a large margin. Women find it difficult to share their problems with men. The women’s cell in



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Kalimati Police Station functions well. But even there, the immediate superiors of women police personnel are invariably men with the same old patriarchal mindset. Dewan Rai similarly pointed to the mismatch between male and female representations in the public institutions and suggested that violence against women can only be reduced if we have proportional representation of women in social bodies, especially in the law implementing agencies like the police, courts and local bodies. Q:

What steps should be taken to reduce violence against women? There is no magic bullet. The main thing is to change people’s perceptions. And women’s meaningful participation should be increased across all fields. Recently, the local autonomous governance law was changed. As per the new law 40% of women’s participation in local bodies is guaranteed. If this law is applied strictly, 100,000 women will enter the state institutions. At this point we need numbers rather than merely stressing quality. When people see a large number of women in non-traditional fields social perceptions regarding them will change as well. You don’t see women in village-level meetings even to this day. And if a woman drives a car or a large motorcycle in the city people are still surprised. This shows that general perceptions regarding women have remained unchanged. Such perceptions will change as more women enter the state and non-state institutions in high numbers.


Conclusion: patriarchy and violence against women Both the survey and life-history interviews revealed that sociocultural and legal institutions are not only shaped by the circulation of patriarchal social norms concerning masculinities and femininities – that men are naturally aggressive, polygamous, rational and with greater breadwinning abilities than women – but also by the sheer overwhelming presence of men in the social institutions, including parliaments, courts and police stations. In this regard social norms and the social structure mutually support each other. During the survey many respondents said that leadership quality and political affiliation are two of the major characteristics of men. This is a matter relating to social norms, but such a deeply internalised norm is also supported by the visible presence of more men in leadership positions – whether in the private domain of the family or the public domain of the nation, including professional fields ranging from politics to law and the media. This was precisely the point made by Bijaya Rayamajhi, one of the respondents whose life history showed how even so-called liberal men can continue to hold onto traditional social norms. This is why it is difficult to change social norms or a belief system when the underlying structure remains the same. Under such circumstances perpetrators of violence often escape punishment as was also shown by the life-history interview of Bhesh Raj Nepal as discussed earlier.

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At the same time, a mere change in the structure will not be sufficient. This is because women or TG subjects who might gain entrance into the legal and political systems, due to the changing, more liberal laws, might have internalised the same patriarchal social norms that turn them into victims. As the survey also showed, many women and TG subjects believe that men are naturally aggressive, polygamous and have breadwinning abilities. If women or TG subjects with such gender-biased social norms enter socio-political structures they will not be able to contribute much to change the system. Instead, we might see the cases of women repressing other women, or transgender subjects repressing others from the LGBTI community. Finally, the making and practice of law cannot be considered free from the pressures of both social norms and social structure. Since legal spaces are shaped by both patriarchal social norms concerning how a man or woman should behave, as well as by the visible presence of men outnumbering women, this can affect both the making of law as well as its everyday practice. This in turn can encourage perpetrators of violence to act in an in-between space, one that is suspended between law and custom, as can be seen in the cases of both Chandra Nagarkoti and Bhesh Raj. One sees more men in key social structures, which in turn reinforces social norms just as those same norms support the structures. The result is a combination of structures and norms that go to shape the making and practice of law. For this reason, any attempt to create a gender-just society needs to tackle these three aspects of patriarchy simultaneously. These three aspects function as three heads of the mythological hydra, cutting one head would not make any difference because, as long as the other two heads remain, the severed head regrows again. The only way to kill such a hydra is to deal with all three heads, or these three aspects of patriarchy, simultaneously.


(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) (South Asian Network to Address Masculinities) (Transgender) (violence against women)

Notes 1 The paper is based on earlier research done under the aegis of UNDP and MenEngage (Nepal) and was conducted from September to December 2013. 2 Occupy Baluwatar was a peaceful protest movement calling on the Nepali state to better address the widespread problem of impunity and gender-based violence, where protesters organised to sit in front of the Nepalese Prime Minister’s Residence for more than 100 days. 3 The word marda signifies a “real man” in Nepali just as namarda means someone who is less than a man, or a man who is lacking masculine characteristics.


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Bibliography Benjamin, Shareen. “Challenging masculinity: Disability and achievement in testing times.” Gender and Education, Vol 13, no 2, 39–55, 2001. Broom, Alex. “Prostrate cancer and masculinity in Australian society: A case for stolen identity?” International Journal of Men’s Health, Vol 3, no 2, 73–91, summer 2004. Butler, Judith. Bodies that matter: On the discursive limits of “sex”. New York: Routledge, 1993. Connel, Raewyn. Masculinities. Sydney: Polity Press, 1995. Kimmel, Michael S. The gendered society. 3rd Edition Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Maycock, Matt. Masculinity, modernity and bonded labour: Continuity and change amongst the Kamaiya of Kailali district, far-west Nepal. Ph.d Thesis University of East Anglia, 2012. ̄ Onta, Pratyoush. “Creating a brave Nepali nation in British India: The rhetoric of Jati improvement, rediscovery of Bhanubhakta and the writing of Bīr history.” Studies in Nepali History and Society, Vol 1, no 1, 37–76, June 1996. Poudel, Babu Ram. Impact of masculinities on gender-based violence related mediated cases in Kurtha VDC of Dhanusha district of Nepal. SANAM, 2012a. Poudel, Kumar. Streets our way: Masculinities among street children of Kathmandu. SANAM, 2011. Poudel, Radha. Understanding masculinities in public transport. SANAM, 2012. Uprety, Sanjeev. Masculinity and mimicry: Ranas and Gurkhas. Kathmandu: Baha Occasional Papers, 52011.


Feminist academics, researchers and activists have identified patriarchal gender norms as being among the causes of war and militarisation (Cockburn 2010a). They highlight the relationship between militarism, an ideology which legitimises violent solutions to conflict and disorder, and patriarchy, an ideology which legitimises the domination of men over women (Enloe 1983, 2007; Cockburn 2010b). It is argued that militarism relies on the acceptance of patriarchal notions of masculinity and femininity in order to make militarised responses to conflict appear legitimate, normal or even inevitable. Broadly speaking, these ideologies position men and militaries, who embody particular masculine ideals, as protectors whose rationality and ability to use force make them best placed to make decisions on behalf of others (Young 2003). ‘Women and children’ – a phrase often used in wartime as a byword for ‘civilians’ – are assumed to be weaker, less rational and in need of protection, which is provided in exchange for submission to the leadership of their protectors. If a society divided into ‘protectors’ and ‘protected’ is understood to be the natural order of things, and violence is assumed to be an inevitable feature of societies, then empowering ‘protectors’ to exercise authority and use violence is assumed to be necessary, whether protectors are (individual) men or militaries. In recent years there has been increasing acknowledgement by governments and multilateral institutions of the need to apply a gender perspective to all efforts to prevent and resolve violent conflict. Most prominently, this has been recognised in a series of eight UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs), starting with UNSCR 1325 in 2000, and culminating most recently in UNSCR 2242 in October 2015. These resolutions on ‘women, peace and security’ have identified the adverse impacts of conflict on women and mandated their full and equal participation in efforts to end conflict and restore peace and security. Despite extensive research demonstrating why an analysis of


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men and masculinities is crucial to understanding conflict, applying a ‘gender perspective’ in the context of peacebuilding policy and practice has tended to mean highlighting the (often neglected) roles and experiences of women. While taking seriously the lives and perspectives of women is crucial to better understanding and preventing war, feminists have also noted that simply adding women into existing systems for maintaining international peace and security does not necessarily challenge the militarised assumptions upon which they operate (Cohn 2008). To achieve the latter, a deeper analysis that pays attention to underlying gender norms and discourses, including masculinities as well as femininities, is necessary. Just as the (partial) conceptual shift from ‘women in development’ to ‘gender and development’ approaches called for greater attention to men’s socially constructed roles in the field of international development (Razavi & Miller 1995), there have been some moves in recent years to bring masculinities under the spotlight in the field of peace and security. This trend is particularly noticeable in efforts to prevent the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war (e.g. UN Secretary-General 2012; Foreign and Commonwealth Office 2014). Yet attention to the relationship between masculinities, militarisation and conflict – including forms of violence which are not generally thought of as ‘gender-based’ – has not yet been fully integrated into policy or programming in the field of women, peace and security. While a concern with the relationships between patriarchy, masculinities and violence was a motivating factor for at least some of the activists who advocated the adoption of UNSCR 1325 (Cohn 2008), in practice this analysis has not been taken forward by the UN and its Member States in the resolutions’ language or implementation. Equally, while a growing number of organisations and activists are implementing projects and programmes which engage with men and boys – and sometimes women and girls – to change attitudes toward masculinity, very few of these are designed explicitly with a view to preventing conflict. In this chapter, I use the term ‘conflict’ to refer to interstate or intrastate conflict, as opposed to interpersonal conflict, at times contrasting it with various forms of ‘gender-based violence’ (GBV). Whilst acknowledging that the latter is form of conflict in itself, and that most, if not all violence can be read as gendered, for conceptual clarity I distinguish between these different forms of conflict/violence in order to describe the different focuses of projects seeking to transform masculinities. The majority of these aim to address such issues as intimate partner violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and men’s roles in parenting. This chapter aims to advance the integration of work on transforming masculinities into the women, peace and security agenda, and question what this might look like in practical terms. I first set out briefly how masculinities can act as drivers of conflict and how projects on ‘engaging men and boys for gender equality’ have sought to shift understandings of masculinity in different contexts. I then analyse where the challenges lie for adapting these approaches to contribute to the practices of conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

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Masculinities as drivers of conflict Constructing certain forms of masculinity is not incidental to militarism; rather, it is essential to its maintenance. Militarism requires a sustaining gender ideology as much as it needs guns and bullets. Kimberly Theidon (2009, p.3) Evidence and analysis demonstrating the role of constructions of masculinity in perpetuating conflict and militarism is extensive, and only a brief summary can be provided here. It has been noted in a range of contexts that dominant notions of masculinity can look different during conflict than they do during peacetime. While these look different in different conflicts and for different groups of men, they often closely link being a man with being a combatant. In times of war, (some) men may come under pressure to support military action, to take up arms, fight, kill and be willing to die for their nation or community (Barker & Ricardo 2006). In situations of prolonged conflict, the use and acceptance of violence often becomes normalised.2 This may be linked to a narrowing in the number of acceptable expressions of masculinity, because the markers of masculinity which were valued during peacetime, such as being a breadwinner for one’s family, are usually much harder to achieve in conflict-affected societies. A commonly cited example is that of armed cattle raids in many parts of South Sudan, which can spark revenge attacks and provoke cycles of violence within and between communities. Owning a gun and participating in a cattle raid are rites of passage for adolescent boys, and for men these are symbols of manhood and virility which confer social status (Small Arms Survey 2010; Saferworld & Conciliation Resources 2012; Oxfam 2013). This connection between masculinity and cattle in pastoral communities is also underpinned by the bride price system, in which a young man is expected to pay his prospective bride’s family in cattle before the couple is able to get married. Young males are not considered to be men until they are married, and in pastoral communities, cattle raiding provides a means by which some young men can obtain enough cattle to pay the bride price and achieve manhood in the eyes of their communities (Small Arms Survey 2010; US Institute of Peace 2011; Saferworld & Conciliation Resources 2012; Oxfam 2013). Masculinity, weapons, cattle and marriage are therefore closely linked, combining to create powerful incentives for young men to participate in violence. Notions of masculinity which call upon men to use violence to protect their families and communities can prove useful to those seeking to mobilise men to take up arms. Both state militaries and non-state armed groups may deliberately promote such notions publicly in order to drive up recruitment, or within their ranks in order to prepare men to fight. In Kosovo, for example, Wendy Bracewell’s analysis of Yugoslav state-run and Serbian media discourses of the 1980s reveals a preoccupation with reporting alleged rapes of Serbian women by


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Albanian men in Kosovo, which resonated with long-held stereotypes of Muslim men as hypersexual, deviant and barbaric (Bracewell 2000). In contrast to Serbian stereotypes of Albanian men, Serbians’ own national identity had long been associated with a masculine ideal of toughness, dominance and heroism, but was portrayed as being emasculated by these so-called ‘nationalist rapes’. Serbian nationalists seized on these tropes, with one commentator describing Serbian women as issuing “almost a cry to the men, to those who can defend her, calling on them to prove themselves to be men at last” (Arasić B in Vreme, 7 December 1992, quoted in Bracewell 2000: 575). According to Bracewell, nationalists “offered militarism as a way of winning back both individual manliness and national dignity,” which played a role in making war thinkable – even “attractive” (2000: 567). Even where committing violence is not seen as an important or desirable aspect of masculinity, notions of manliness can still be implicated in the occurrence of violence. For example, where men’s efforts to achieve traditional markers of manhood are thwarted, violence can provide a means of attaining them. In parts of Uganda, for example, poverty, violence and internal displacement resulting from conflict has made traditional avenues for achieving a sense of manhood much more difficult for many men, including marriage, fatherhood and protecting and providing for their families (El-Bushra, Myrttinen & Naujoks 2013; Saferworld & Uganda Land Alliance 2016b). Despite this, alternative forms of masculinity have not gained currency, and many men still aspire to traditional norms, albeit often with little success. Chris Dolan has argued that these circumstances have made joining the military a more appealing option for some civilian men to “recover lost masculinity,” giving them access to higher salaries and the ability to attract “temporary wives” without paying bride prices (Dolan 2003, 2011). In this case it is not that violence is itself celebrated as a facet of masculinity but that it has become normalised as a means to obtain other markers of masculinity. While my focus here is primarily on the role of masculinities in men’s perpetration of violence, these same gender norms and expectations around masculinity can also render men and boys vulnerable to violence in conflict situations. The assumption that men are naturally prepared to use violence or that it is their duty to do so on behalf of their communities makes them – particularly men from lower socioeconomic classes – vulnerable to forced recruitment into both militaries and non-state armed groups. Closely related to this, the assumption in many conflicts that ‘men of fighting age’ are actual or potential combatants has led to their being targeted for violence on the basis of their gender. Reports of armed groups systematically killing or disappearing men and boys have surfaced from conflicts in Rwanda, South Sudan, Syria and the former Yugoslavia, for example (Carpenter 2006; Amnesty International 2016; Colville 2016). This also may explain why, in the current crisis in Syria, deaths among boys have been found to outnumber those among girls by two to one, with older boys being “consistently the most frequent victims of targeted killings such as those involving sniper fire, execution or torture” (Oxford Research Group 2013: 5).

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Feminist analysis has shown that militarised gender norms are implicated not only in the perpetration of violence by marginalised men in conflict zones, but also in the promotion of militarised national security policies by politicians and policymakers (Enloe 2003). Carol Cohn’s ethnographic study of defence intellectuals in the United States found that co-operative or non-confrontational approaches to security problems were marked as feminine and therefore devalued, while “every person who enters this world. . . must adopt the masculine position in order to be successful” (Cohn 1993: 238). The portrayal of military intervention as ‘manly’ or ‘muscular’ foreign policy has also been used to persuade sceptical publics of the necessity of going to war (Young 2003; Messerschmidt 2010). Unsurprisingly given the power differentials, the role of masculinities among policymaking elites in the Global North has received far less attention in policy discourses than have analyses of disenfranchised men with guns in the Global South.3 While the 2015 UN-commissioned Global Study on Women, Peace and Security recognised that, “Militarism and cultures of militarised masculinities create and sustain political decision-making where resorting to the use of force becomes a normalised mode for dispute resolution” (Coomaraswamy 2015: 207), this part of the report appears to have received little attention from governments.

Putting theory into practice: masculinities and peacebuilding programmes Gender dynamics are by no means the whole story. Yet given the concentration of weapons and the practices of violence among men, gender patterns appear to be strategic. . . This is the new dimension in peace work which studies of men suggest: contesting the hegemony of masculinities which emphasise violence, confrontation and domination, and replacing them with patterns of masculinity more open to negotiation, cooperation and equality. - R W Connell, “Masculinities, the reduction of violence and the pursuit of peace” (2002: 38) In response to analysis linking notions of masculinity with armed conflict, there have been calls in recent decades for peacebuilding practitioners to incorporate a focus on transforming masculinities into their work (e.g. Large 1997; Women Peacemakers Program 2014). Despite this, only a small number of conflict prevention and peacebuilding projects have begun to put this into practice. There are numerous and growing projects and programmes under the rubric of ‘engaging men and boys for gender equality’, which aim to transform harmful notions of masculinity. However, the vast majority of these focus on preventing domestic violence, improving sexual and reproductive health, and promoting men’s caring roles as fathers. Only a small number explicitly aim to address the role of masculinities in fuelling conflict.


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A literature review conducted by Patrick Welsh for Saferworld, which examined documentation relating to projects and programmes by nineteen organisations and a number of networks across five continents, identified three strategies commonly adopted by organisations seeking to engage men and boys for gender equality: group education strategies, community outreach strategies and integrated strategies which combine the two (Welsh 2013). Group education strategies typically use a series of workshops and other semiformal educational set-ups which encourage reflection on the part of men and boys as to how they have come to understand their own masculine identities and the impacts these have on their lives, using techniques such as group discussion, videos and role plays. In long-term initiatives such as Cantera’s training courses on masculinity in Nicaragua, these are incorporated into a cycle of reflection, analysis and action for change. Implementing organisations emphasise that group education activities should be tailored to the context, taking into account the characteristics of the prospective participants, such as their age, academic achievements, economic situation and geographical location. Community outreach strategies are aimed at influencing culturally ingrained attitudes, values and behaviours on a wider scale, including through mass media campaigns, distribution of educational and informational materials, rallies, marches and cultural events. In addition to conducting mass media campaigns, many community outreach projects train and support men and boys to become activists within their own communities. For example, the One Man Can campaign run by Sonke Gender Justice uses an action toolkit containing stickers, music, t-shirts, videos, posters and fact sheets to enjoin men and boys to take action to end domestic and sexual violence and promote gender equality (Sonke Gender Justice 2008). Sonke also trains Community Action Teams on issues related to gender, masculinities, violence and HIV prevention and how to plan and implement campaign activities in their own communities, and activists have used sporting events, theatre and murals to get their message across. A 2007 study by Promundo and the World Health Organisation which examined fifty-eight studies evaluating projects and programmes which engage men and boys for gender equality concluded that integrated strategies, which use a combination of group education and community outreach strategies in a complementary way, are “the most effective in changing behaviour”(Barker, Ricardo & Nascimento 2007: 27). One example of such a project is the Young Men Initiative supported by CARE International in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. The project began with a formative research study in these countries, which identified that home and school were the two places where boys learnt most about what it means to be a man (CARE International & International Center for Research on Women 2007). The Initiative ran workshops for boys in schools, and used a social marketing campaign called Budi muško (or ‘Be a man’) to spread key messages from the workshops (Young Men Initiative, CARE International and Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2012). While the project was not explicitly intended to address ethnic tensions in the region, as evaluation also noted

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that bringing together boys and men from countries which had previously been at war with each other brought potential benefits: “The opportunity to reflect together on and collaborate around a common cause helped to dispel the prejudices many of the young men held toward young men from other countries, thus contributing to peacebuilding among the younger generation” (Ibid.: 27). The evaluative studies considered in this review suggest some positive impacts from projects based on group education approaches, those focused on community outreach, and those which integrate both strategies. While most evaluations have been conducted during or shortly after programme interventions and therefore do not show whether changes are sustained in the longer term, the available data suggests that these projects provide a useful starting point for changing understandings of masculinity which legitimise violence into ones more compatible with non-violence and gender equality. There are very few programmes which have begun to take some of these approaches and adapt them to begin addressing masculinities as drivers of conflict. One pioneering example is the “Overcoming violence: exploring masculinities, violence, and peace” project implemented by the Dutch INGO Women Peacemakers’ Program (WPP). This was piloted in 2009–10, when WPP selected nineteen men from seventeen countries affected by conflict or widespread violence, all trainers with some prior knowledge of either gender or peacebuilding (WPP 2010). Initially, the men were given training in the theory and practice of gender-sensitive nonviolence, masculinities and participatory facilitation, as well as being encouraged to share experiences from their own country contexts. They were then paired with female activists, who supported them to develop and conduct community projects and trainings based on what they had learnt (WPP 2013). WPP subsequently changed its vision and mission statements to include a commitment to integrate work on masculinities into all of its projects on women, peace and security, but it remains one of the few peacebuilding organisations to do so.

Challenges and question marks If work on transforming masculinities is to be integrated into peacebuilding strategies, lessons can be learned from the programming approaches outlined above. However, there are some potential challenges which need to be addressed if these approaches are to be adapted for contributing to the prevention of conflict. I suggest the following as aspects that require further consideration.

Gendering conflict analysis Although there are major cultural links between masculinity and violence in most, if not all, societies around the world, it does not necessarily follow that patriarchal masculinities play the same role in driving or enabling violence in all countries or regions affected by conflict, nor is that necessarily the only role they play in conflict dynamics. In order to ascertain when and how they act as a


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key driver it is necessary to conduct a conflict analysis which poses questions about how gender norms interact with conflict dynamics. Despite increased recognition in recent years of the need to take a gender perspective on matters of peace and security, the tools and methodologies used by policymakers and peacebuilding practitioners for conflict analysis are often genderblind. To the extent that conflict analyses do include gender considerations, these are often limited to discussion of GBV, or the impacts of conflict on women. Not only does this exclude any consideration of men and masculinities, but it also leaves out an analysis of gender dimensions of the drivers of conflict. Recently, two toolkits have been published which aim to help practitioners to integrate consideration of masculinities and femininities into conflict analysis, including with specific reference to how they may shape conflict dynamics (Conciliation Resources 2015; Saferworld & Uganda Land Alliance 2016a). However, further work is needed to test their adaptability in different conflict contexts, and to promote wider uptake of these or similar tools by peacebuilders.

Selecting participants and developing theories of change As outlined above, research in conflict-affected contexts shows that narratives around militarised masculinities can play a role in motivating individual men to take up arms, but also that these gender norms can play a role in building wider popular support for war. Similarly, particular institutions and individuals, such as political leaders, the armed forces or non-state armed groups can play an important role in promoting militarised masculinities, but these often draw on more widely held patriarchal beliefs and norms engrained in local and national cultures. This raises important questions about who should be the target audience for efforts to challenge militarised masculinities, and what are the underlying theories of change. For example, men who are, or have been, combatants may be key participants for programmes on masculinities, as well as those whose background or situation may make them particularly vulnerable to recruitment into armed groups. In some contexts, such as the case of cattle raiding in South Sudan, those who take part in armed violence do not necessarily belong to organised armed groups. In designing any programme, decisions about how to select participants and whether to work directly with current or former combatants would need to be taken based on careful analysis of what would be effective, feasible and conflict-sensitive in the context at hand. In cases where militarised masculinities are deliberately promoted by powerful political or military actors, attempts by NGOs to challenge these narratives may prove to be highly sensitive and even dangerous. While militaries and other armed groups may cultivate their own gendered cultures to serve a particular political or operational purpose, these institutional norms are not completely disconnected from more widely held beliefs about gender and masculinities. Rather, they gain their potency by drawing on gender norms within the wider societies those institutions inhabit. For example, research

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on young men and conflict dynamics in sub-Saharan Africa found that young male combatants were often “acting out a socially recognised role of manhood taken to its extreme” (Barker & Ricardo 2006: 173). If the prevalence of patriarchal gender norms in societies is an enabling factor for militarisation, it may help to explain why some research suggests correlations between societal levels of gender equality and levels of peace (e.g. Caprioli 2000, 2005; Melander 2005; Institute for Economics and Peace 2011). This may suggest that rather than (or in addition to) focusing in on security sector institutions or armed groups, peacebuilders should turn their attention to promoting non-violent masculinities and femininities within societies more broadly. Indeed, given that masculinities are by definition that which is socially constructed as valuable for men and boys, the weight of popular opinion can play a crucial, perhaps defining, role in instructing men and boys in what is ‘masculine’. Of course, the majority of men and boys in most countries affected by conflict and fragility are not combatants, and many actively resist the notion that committing or being subjected to violence is a prerequisite to manhood. Programmes may engage men who are already involved in peace activism, as WPP’s masculinities programme has done. Gaining a better understanding of how some men are able to develop and sustain non-violent masculinities in highly militarised societies would also help to inform strategies for enabling others to do the same. Given the important role which women play in constructing and reinforcing norms of masculinity, their participation is also important for programming in this area. This could include engaging women to examine critically how they relate to their husbands or partners, or what messages they pass on to their sons and daughters about gender roles and norms. Much important work is already being done with women and girls in many contexts to raise awareness on issues relating to gender equality and women’s rights, including links with peace and security. It may therefore be a matter of establishing links between this and work on masculinities where they do not exist already.

Gendered structures and institutions The fact that gender norms are socially constructed does not mean that they are simply a matter of attitudes and ideas. On the contrary, they are embedded within social, cultural, economic and political systems which reinforce and sustain them (Cohn 2013). Ideas about what it means to be a man are reinforced by, for example, education systems; laws around marriage and child custody; employment law and paternity leave arrangements; gendered marketing and media messages; military, religious and cultural institutions, to name a few. Addressing gender norms which drive conflict and insecurity is therefore not only a matter of changing the way men and women think about their identities but also examining the structures which uphold those gender norms and which are, in turn, upheld by them. Indeed, it has been suggested that to work only at the individual level and encourage men


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to change without also addressing the social, political, economic and legal systems that may penalise them for non-conformity risks doing harm (Dolan 2011). Taking the example of cattle raiding in South Sudan described above, any activities seeking to break the links between masculinity and cattle raiding in in that contexts would need to be based on an understanding that these gender norms are themselves underpinned by structural factors, including local economies based largely on cattle, social hierarchies built around cattle ownership and the bride price system. Research by Saferworld in South Sudan found that local women saw increasing the age at which women get married and allowing them to stay in school for longer as an important means of changing gender relations (Saferworld & Conciliation Resources 2012). Murle women in particular sought to end the system of ‘booking’, in which older men are able to ‘book’ young girls as future wives even before they are born. They believed that this, in turn, would help to reduce child abduction and cattle raiding. This is just one example of how local efforts to change aspects of social and economic systems which reinforce certain gender norms might help to break links between masculinities and conflict. While it might be tempting to think that changing material circumstances is more important than challenging ideas about gender, examples demonstrate that doing one without the other can be less effective. In the Karamoja region of northern Uganda, for example, groups of ‘reformed warriors’ have been formed who have renounced cattle raiding and aim to mobilise other youth to join peace campaigns. In order to reduce raiding, efforts have been made to encourage men to take up agriculture as an alternative to cattle keeping. However, research on community perceptions has revealed that men who have been made to give up cattle raiding and take up agriculture are perceived to have “become women” and are not highly regarded by their communities, providing a disincentive for others to follow their lead (Advisory Consortium on Conflict Sensitivity 2013; Saferworld & Uganda Land Alliance 2016b). In this case, changes in men’s material circumstances which are not accompanied by corresponding changes in gender norms do not appear to be providing a basis for sustainable peace.

Working to scale At present, the limited evidence of what works in masculinities programming as a peacebuilding intervention means that small-scale pilot projects are needed to test different approaches. Should these be successful, it will be necessary to consider what scale of programming is needed in order to have a meaningful influence on conflict dynamics. Given the experiences of organisations already implementing programmes on masculinities, which suggests that local level interventions may be insufficient to bring about wholesale changes in gender norms, it is likely that other models will also have to be developed for scaling up. Patrick Welsh notes that, while group education programmes which encourage individual men in processes of personal transformation do not necessarily lead them to engage in

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efforts to change the political structures which perpetuate patriarchy, they do represent a starting point from which this type of work can begin (Welsh 2011). Many existing projects to transform masculinities, particularly in the case of group education strategies, work with target groups that are relatively small, and it is difficult to get a picture of the potential of these approaches to generate change on a wider scale. Implementing organisations acknowledge the need to engage at the policy level in order to scale up their impacts, and many are now beginning to do this, in particular by advocating for modules on masculinities to be incorporated into school curricula, but also working with government ministries such as those for health, youth and sport to further disseminate their messages. In Brazil, for example, Promundo has been trialling different approaches to scaling up its work to achieve national level impacts, connecting its efforts with larger movements across the country, such as movements for youth and child rights. There have been some early successes: for instance, materials on masculinities have been adopted by the public health sector as part of programmes to improve adolescent health. However, this area of work is relatively new, and it is too early to assess what the impacts might be. Finally, while there is a tendency for NGOs to envisage social change in terms of projects and programmes, it is worth stepping back and questioning whether this model is really what is needed. When it comes to changing gender norms which are deeply embedded in societal systems and structures, it may be that social movements, which mobilise larger numbers of people over a longer period of time, would be more effective.

Working with the security sector Just as institutional cultures within military organisations are influenced by their wider societies, so too can militaries and other security sector institutions influence wider cultures (Morgan 1994; Cockburn 2013). In Israel, for example, where military service is compulsory for the majority of young men and women, militarised notions of masculinity and femininity reinforced in the military have also heavily influenced Israeli civilian society (Sharoni 1995). Military service is a rite of passage, where male recruits are expected to develop “pragmatism, assertiveness, emotional toughness, and readiness to sacrifice one’s life for the homeland,” and is considered a necessary condition of being a true citizen (Ibid.: 44). The military is therefore one of the key sites in which societal gender norms are produced and reproduced. Depending on analysis of the conflict context and theories of change which emerge from it, it may be desirable to integrate work on masculinities into processes of security sector reform (SSR) or disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes. Indeed, a UN toolkit on gender and SSR recommends that gender training for security sector personnel should address masculinities and men’s understanding of themselves, in order to challenge “‛cultures of violent masculinity’ which are often prevalent within the armed


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forces and the police” (Tõnisson Kleppe 2008: 7–8), yet this is rarely included in SSR programmes. The Islamabad-based NGO Rozan’s Rabta police reform programme in Pakistan addresses masculinities as part of efforts to improve police responses to violence against women and girls (Rozan 2011). Rozan was approached by the police leadership to help improve interpersonal skills among the police and saw this as an opportunity to address the “abusive or insensitive treatment of female survivors by some police personnel” (Ibid). Their ‘Attitudinal Change Module’ “aims to explore how men themselves experience understandings of masculinity” through workshops and has received approval to be taught to police personnel as part of the regular training curriculum across all police training institutes in Pakistan (Ibid). Rozan acknowledges that training alone cannot transform the police force, but that advocacy is needed at the political level to ensure that institutional cultures are changed, rather than simply changing the attitudes of a few individuals within those cultures.4 Similarly, the UN’s Integrated disarmament, demobilization and integration standards states that “finding alternatives to violent ways of expressing masculinity is vital in periods of transition from war to peace” (United Nations 2006: 22), but few documented examples of masculinities being directly addressed through DDR programmes exist. This is despite evidence that the militarisation of masculinities can become an obstacle to former combatants integrating back into civilian life. For example, research conducted by Kimberly Theidon with former combatants, their communities and programme staff implementing DDR in Colombia, found that while male combatants have learnt “to be hard and impenetrable, both physically and emotionally” as a result of their training and experiences of combat, these forms of masculinity have not served them well as they reintegrate into civilian communities, and may help explain high levels of domestic violence perpetrated for former combatants in that context (Theidon 2009: 21, 27). In Sudan, Sonke Gender Justice Network and Zenab for Women in Development collaborated with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Sudan DDR Commission to implement their One Man Can programme as part of Sudan’s DDR process (Aslund 2014). The programme design was based on the observation that patriarchal and violent masculinities were prevalent among both civilians and ex-combatants. It was first trialled in Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Khartoum states, targeting male and female ex-combatants, women associated with the armed forces, civilian men and women, community elders and religious leaders.5 Sonke notes that implementing this type of programme can be particularly sensitive in conflict and post-conflict settings, particularly where gender issues are highly politicised. However, Sonke and Zenab for Women in Development received government backing for the programme, and in 2013 trained a network of civil society organisations to implement it on a wider scale. While some work has been done with former combatants, Saferworld’s review of programming to transform masculinities found no examples of NGOs working directly with state militaries. While the Living Peace project piloted by Promundo in the Democratic Republic of Congo engaged with some individual men who

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were currently serving in the armed forces, at the time of writing they are not engaging with the military at an institutional level. Indeed, the possibility of seeking to transform masculinities within militaries raises a range of interesting and difficult questions: if military leaders deliberately promote particular forms of masculinity among the ranks in order to produce soldiers who are obedient and able to commit violence against the enemy, what is the likelihood that they would be open to any attempt to inculcate non-violent masculinities? Is it even possible to “demilitarise the military?” Feminist scholars have grappled with this question, in debates too lengthy to reproduce in this chapter (e.g. Cockburn & Hubic 2002; Duncanson 2013). For peacebuilding practitioners and activists, it presents practical and political challenges for which answers have not yet been proffered.

The international angle In many contexts, the structures which play a role on influencing or reinforcing conflict dynamics and gender norms are transnational ones. Multinational corporations, UN peacekeeping operations and development, peacebuilding and humanitarian programmes run by international NGOs can all play a role in constructing masculinities and femininities in positive or negative ways. It is important not to assume – as peacebuilding strategies often implicitly do – that structures which create and perpetuate both conflict and patriarchal gender norms are restricted to the local or national level, but to examine the role of international actors and structures. For example, when international donors provide support to SSR processes in conflict-affected countries, there is a tendency for them to export the same organisational cultures and working practices found in their own security sectors to recipient states. Therefore, not only may highly militarised notions of masculinity prevalent within many donor countries’ security sectors be reproduced in other contexts, but they may also appear to bring with them the stamp of international legitimacy (Ní Aoláin 2009). Indeed, feminists have identified militarisation as a process that crosses national borders, and that takes place in countries usually thought of as peaceful as well as those experiencing or descending into armed conflict (e.g. Enloe 2007). As noted above, militarised masculinities are problematic not only when performed by marginalised men with guns in rural South Sudan or Uganda: they are also implicated in security policy decisions made by elite actors, whether in Juba or London, Kampala or Washington DC. While peacebuilding and development actors have begun to develop strategies for transforming masculinities in communities in the Global South, and similar projects exist in poor communities in ‘developed’ countries to address violent crime, equivalent strategies have not been developed to engage with elites, such as politicians or civil servants. For NGOs, many of whom rely on governments for funding or maintain relationships with them for the purpose of lobbying, to suggest that those same governments are themselves enacting militarised masculinities which endanger global security could be detrimental to their future prospects. Nonetheless, without addressing


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the role of elite institutions, the kind of wholesale transformation of militarised gender norms envisaged by feminist peace activists cannot be achieved. Indeed, if activism to transform masculinities remains silent on the role of elites, particularly those in the Global North, it runs into danger of simply ‘othering’ men who are already marginalised, whether on the basis of race, ethnicity, class or geography. As illustrated by the example from Kosovo described above, narratives which portray men from particular backgrounds as displaying an inferior masculinity have frequently been deployed to justify violence and oppression against those groups. European and North American settlers in colonised societies in the 19th and early 20th centuries contrasted the ‘civilised’ masculinity of white settlers, marked by chivalry and self-control, with the ‘uncivilised’ masculinity of colonised men (Enloe 1989; Barker & Ricardo 2006; Stoler 2010). Such comparisons served to justify colonialism as a ‘civilising mission’. Parallels have been drawn with narratives surrounding the ‘War on Terror’ which portray Arab and/or Muslim men as displaying a masculinity characterised by random violence, misogyny and homophobia as compared to a Western masculinity framed as benevolent, tolerant and courageous (Bhattacharyya 2008). Activists must take great care to avoid reinforcing (or being perceived to reinforce), and to actively challenge, narratives which fuel oppression and violence. Indeed, it has been suggested that overly simplistic statements that young men are the cause of conflict could create resentment and despondency among young men, turning into self-fulfilling prophecies (Barker & Ricardo 2006). It has been observed that some programmes seeking to transform masculinities are perceived as attempts by foreigners (often white Westerners) to perpetuate stereotypes of (usually non-white) men, in an echo of colonial narratives. Indeed, the fact that such a large proportion of the literature on masculinities and conflict focuses on Africa is suggestive of an imbalance which needs to be redressed. We must be mindful that the portrayal of gender equality as a Western agenda is often used strategically to discredit calls for the realisation women’s rights, despite the presence of a home-grown women’s movement in most if not all societies. Nonetheless, these concerns must be taken seriously. It is necessary both to acknowledge that patriarchal and militaristic values fuel various forms of violence around the world, including in Western countries usually thought of as peaceful, and to examine the role which the West has played in constructing harmful masculinities at home and abroad, historically and today.

Responding to legitimate grievances Militarised masculinities cannot be described as the sole cause of any particular conflict but interact with other factors to produce conflict and violence, and should therefore be addressed not in isolation but alongside other conflict drivers. There is a danger that programming to change men’s (and women’s) attitudes toward masculinity could be co-opted as a kind of therapeutic tool for promoting acquiescence to injustices which may drive conflict while those

Transforming masculinities as a contribution to conflict prevention?


injustices themselves are left unaddressed. Conflict is often fuelled by a legitimate sense of anger at oppression, exclusion and failures of governance, and it is vital to recognise and address these factors. For example, young men who are unemployed due to a lack of economic opportunities may have a sense of grievance not only because they feel emasculated by their situations but also because they have a genuine economic need which is not being met. The suggestion that men rethink their ideas about manhood should not diminish the need for changes in other areas. A comprehensive response should seek to address the causes of legitimate grievances through peaceful means while also working to change factors – including gender and other intersecting identities, roles and power relations – which might cause that sense of grievance to turn violent.

Maintaining a feminist perspective When designing projects for transforming masculinities as a strategy for, for example, preventing men from joining armed groups, it may be tempting to drop some of the content from existing programming approaches that are more focused on engaging men and boys to promote women’s rights. However, failure to emphasise the links between non-violent masculinities and gender equality would not only be a missed opportunity to make progress toward advancing women’s rights; it risks doing harm. Given the relational nature of gender, changes in men’s attitudes toward their own gender identities will inevitably change the way they relate to women, and so it is necessary to ensure that these changes are progressive ones. For example, as noted in the example from Colombia above, where some opportunities to express patriarchal masculinity are taken away (such as through a combatant being disarmed and demobilised), men may compensate by finding other avenues for exercising dominance and control, including through how they treat the women in their lives. As Cynthia Enloe and others have noted, the danger in masculinities being seen as the latest new and interesting topic on the peacebuilding agenda is that it will divert attention and resources away from other core aims of the women, peace and security agenda: namely, the empowerment of women (Enloe 2015). In response to this problem, WPP as part of their Overcoming Violence project decided that accountability to the women’s movement was vital for any project investing some of the limited resources available for gender work in training men and ensured that women were involved in every stage of the project. Similarly, International Rescue Committee in its Engaging Men through Accountable Practice intervention, has developed mechanisms for making project staff and male participants accountable to women in the target communities (International Rescue Committee 2013). Yet questions persist over which women these men should remain accountable to and how, and debates over the place of men in feminist movements remain at times fraught.


Hannah Wright

Conclusion Interest in the potential of programmes challenging patriarchal and militarised masculinities to contribute to conflict prevention is increasing. Feminist scholarship, and the experiences of those already implementing such programmes, provide rich material for analysis when designing strategies for activism. This includes both tentative evidence of approaches that may be effective, and notes of caution about potential pitfalls and challenges: the risks of othering already marginalised men whilst shying away from the challenge of engaging with elites; the potential for approaches that seek to change violent masculinities on an individual level ignoring structural factors that perpetuate patriarchal gender norms and violent conflict; and the risk of a new focus on masculinities in peacebuilding coming loose from its feminist underpinnings, to name a few. On the other hand, efforts to put feminist theories concerning militarism and war to the test through activism to transform militarised gender norms may also yield new insights for scholarly study. Given the challenges, it is not surprising that the recent surge in interest in masculinities from security policymakers has been met with a degree of apprehension by some feminists. One thing is certain: if masculinities are to move up the women, peace and security agenda, critical feminist engagement is needed to steer through difficult terrain as this area of work continues to develop and grow.


Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces Disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration Gender-based violence International non-governmental organisation Non-governmental organisation Security sector reform United Nations Development Programme United Nations Security Council Resolution Women Peacemakers Program

Notes 1 The author is a PhD student at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This chapter is based upon a report she wrote for Saferworld entitled “Masculinities, conflict and peacebuilding: perspectives on men through a gender lens,” published in 2014. 2 The use of some forms of violence, for example gender-based violence, can often also become normalised in countries usually thought of as being at peace. 3 My current PhD research, focusing on the role of gender norms in shaping militarised ways of thinking in Western foreign policymaking institutions, aims to contribute to redressing this imbalance.

Transforming masculinities as a contribution to conflict prevention?


4 For more analysis on how individuals can work to change institutional cultures of masculinity, see Greig & Edström (2012), Mobilising men in practice: Challenging sexual and gender-based violence in institutional settings. 5 ‘Women associated with the armed forces’ include the wives, partners and family members of male combatants; women working for or with the armed forces, for example as cooks or nurses; and those forcibly recruited, for example into sexual slavery.

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Small Arms Survey (2010), “Symptoms and causes: Insecurity and underdevelopment in Eastern Equatoria,” available at: issue-briefs/HSBA-IB-16-symptoms-causes.pdf (accessed 27 May 2018). Sonke Gender Justice (2008), “One man can toolkit,” available at: http://gender.care2share. Sonke%20One%20Man%20Can%20Manual.pdf (accessed 27 May 2018). Stoler A L (2010), Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Rule: Gender and Morality in the Making of a Race, (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press). Theidon K (2009), “Reconstructing masculinities: The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants in Colombia,” Human Rights Quarterly, 31, 1–34. Tõnisson Kleppe T (2008), “Gender training for security sector personnel – Good practices and lessons learned” in M Bastick and K Valasek (eds), Gender and Security Sector Reform Toolkit, (Geneva: DCAF, OSCE/ODIHR). United Nations (2006), Integrated Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Standards, (New York: United Nations). United Nations Secretary-General (2012), “Prevention of violence against women and girls: Report of the Secretary-General,” UN Economic and Social Council E/CN.6/2013/4, available at: (accessed 27 May 2018). United States Institute of Peace (2011), “Dowry and division: Youth and state building in South Sudan,” available at: (accessed 27 May 2018). Welsh P (2011), “Swimming against the tide is easier as a shoal: Changing masculinities in Nicaragua: A community based approach” in A Cornwall, J Edström and A Greig (eds), Men and Development: Politicising Masculinities, (Brighton: Instituteof Development Studies, University of Sussex and Zed Books), 205–218. Women Peacemakers Program (WPP) (2010), “Together for transformation: Men, masculinities and peacebuilding,” available at: assets/CMS/Resources/Reports/May-24-2010.pdf Women Peacemakers Program (WPP) (2013), “Men and women working as partners for gender-sensitive active non-violence,” available at: 10156/0/May%20Pub%202013%20web.pdf/afcd575d-8f3e-4c6b-9f90-cde15f3ee134 (accessed 27 May 2018). Women Peacemakers Program (WPP) (2014), “Incorporating a masculinities perspective in UNSCR 1325 implementation,” available at: default/files/MasculinitiesPerspective-UNSCR1325.pdf (accessed 27 May 2018). Wright H (2014), “Masculinities, conflict and peacebuilding: Perspectives on men through a gender lens,” available at: nities-conflict-and-peacebuilding.pdf (accessed 27 May 2018). Young I M (2003), “The logic of masculinist protection: Reflections on the current security state,” Signs, 29 (1), 1–25. Young Men Initiative, CARE International and Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2012), “The young men initiative - a case study 2012: Engaging young men in the Western Balkans in gender equality and violence prevention,” available at: http://www. (accessed 17 May 2018).

4 MASCULINITY AND VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN Exploring the practices of young men in Bangladesh Shashish Shami Kamal

Introduction Various studies (Messerschmidt 1999; Totten 2003; Franklin 2004; Lopa 2012) show that the construction of ‘Masculinity’ itself is related to criminal activities and violence of different kinds. Miedzian (1991) identifies the socialisation process as one of the influencing factors that lead to violence being an acceptable behaviour in men. This acceptance of violence induces men to strive for power, dominance, status and higher social position within a particular social setting. Some recent studies in Bangladesh (Imtiaz 2012; Lopa 2012; HDRC 2013) demonstrate that there is an increasing tendency of adolescent and young men to be involved in acts that can be categorised as Gender Based Violence (hereafter, GBV). The mentioned literature suggests that these acts are not random isolated acts but consequences that are unequivocally linked with the construction of ‘Masculinity’. This calls for an exploration into the link between the construction of ‘Masculinity’ and the increasing tendencies of young men’s enactment of GBV in the social settings of Bangladesh. In the context of Bangladesh, men are the main perpetrators of GBV. Be it against other men, women or children. A recent study (icddr,b 2011) surveying more than 2000 men in urban and rural areas found that 10% of urban and 14% of rural men perpetrated sexual violence against women in their lifetime. About 80% of men who had forced a woman into sex were motivated by sexual entitlement. Surprisingly, 57–67% of men sexually abused women just for ‘fun’. Another study (HDRC 2013) concluded that three-fourths (76%) of the tertiary-level1female students faced at least one type of sexual harassment during their study period in the universities inside and/or outside campus by campus-related people, where the main perpetrators were other tertiary-level male students from other classes and male students of the victim’s own classes. This particular study (HDRC 2013)


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implies that it is essential to have an in-depth understanding of male tertiary-level students in order to unfold the enactment of such behaviours. The in-depth understanding inevitably requires studying young men in tertiary-level education within their social settings.

Objectives The young men’s general practices constructing masculinity and its particular implication on the issue of VAW has not been understood in the context of Bangladesh. Very few studies have been conducted that deals with young men’s practices, masculinity and its influence on VAW. The whole concept of studying masculinity and its influence on VAW is new to the research field in Bangladesh. Nazmunnessa Mahtab (2012) in her book Women, Gender and Development: Contemporary Issues identifies it as ‘A New Dimension in Gender Based Violence (Masculinity)’. This statement clearly suggests that a study on VAW from the dimension of masculinity will be new and original. Following this understanding, the study fixes its objectives as: 1. 2.

Identify the practices of the young men Explore the link between such practices and violence against women

Methodology Methods and data analysis Dhaka University was chosen as the study area. The population of the study was male residential students of the dormitories (more commonly known as ‘Halls’). The research process included various phases. In this first phase, in-depth interviews were conducted with fifteen young men using purposive sampling. In the context of Bangladesh, the practices related to violence against women and girls (VAWG) are very sensitive. So, the primary concern of the researcher was to make them talk about their general social practices in a frank way. They were asked to tell their life stories. This included their childhood, school life, adolescence, college life and romantic affairs. The stories often revealed sections where the general practices relating to violence against women and girls were unfolded. The researcher, being a male of similar age, and a student of Dhaka University himself, developed a rapport with them quite easily. But still there was a matter of trust-building between the researcher and the respondents. Purposive selection and rapport building was essential to address this problem. Using this method fifteen life stories were taken down using in-depth interviews. In the second phase of the study the researcher identified five young men who enacted various practices that could be related with VAWG. The researcher selected the participants based on the previous phase of in-depth interviews. The researcher spent seven to eight hours for two days2 (with each of the five respondents) in their halls observing their daily lives. The respondents were requested to

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show their activities and writings (i.e., diaries, Facebook, blogs and other sections of the web3). The researcher asked for their consent in tape-recording the conversations. I also took notes. The third phase of the study was the thematic analysis part. The researcher read the transcripts, indexed and wrote up each interview as a narrative story. The researcher analysed the narratives to explore the practices within their given cultural, environmental context and subjective experiences. Common themes regarding practices of young men were identified from fifteen stories. The fourth phase included designing and conducting a cross-sectional survey. One hall was randomly selected for conducting the survey. The survey was conducted on thirty students using probability proportional sampling.4 Descriptive statistics has been used for data analysis.

Conceptualisation Masculinity is not a fixed entity embedded in the body or personality traits of an individual but rather involves configurations of practice that are accomplished in social action and, therefore, can differ according to the gender relations in a particular social setting. (Connell and Messerschmidt 2005: 836) From this conceptualisation we understand that masculinity (and femininity) is the “configuration of gender practices” through which an actor holds a place among various actors in the gender relations of the social structure. Thus, masculinity is understood here as the combination of practices in a particular social setting. Hegemonic masculinity can be understood as the pattern of practices (i.e., things done, not just a set of role expectations or an identity) that allowed men’s dominance over women to continue (Connell and Messerschmidt 2005). ‘Hegemonic’ refers to the term Hegemony or the social dominance of a certain group, exercised not through brute force, but through a cultural dynamic which extends into private life and social realms. Thus, “the media, education and ideology can all be channels through which hegemony is established.” (Giddens 2006). It also states that there are multiple masculinities and femininities in any society. The existing hierarchy is based on one common feature, that is, the domination of men over other men and women. Connell uses ‘ideal types’ of masculinities and femininities in his hierarchy, at the top of the hierarchy is hegemonic masculinity, which is dominant over other masculinities and femininities in society (Giddens 2006).

Results Characteristics of the respondents There is no major reason that can be attributed to different characteristics between the respondents of the in-depth interviews and survey. The respondents


Shashish Shami Kamal

TABLE 4.1 Conceptualising violence against women5 based on the policy settings of Bangladesh6


Violence including slapping, fisting, boxing, pushing, shoving, hair-pulling, throwing acid or hot water, suffocating, applying shock, burning, threatening with a gun, knife or any sharp weapon, beating etc.

Psychological Violence including controlling behaviour like hindering contact with friends and relatives, being suspicious, hindering visits to a physician, forcing women to wear a hijab, obstructing study or work, forbidding them to go out for recreation, using aggressive language against parents, forcing or forbidding contraceptive use, anger at the birth of a daughter and abuse such as insulting, belittling or humiliation, intimidation, threatening to remarry or divorce etc. Sexual

Violence by the husband including inflicting pain or forcing her to have sex against her will, degrading or humiliating behaviour during intercourse, other forms of sexual violence; and violence by a non-partner including forcing her to have sex or proposing sex or any sexual act against her will which she found humiliating or disregarding. It also includes physical and emotional abuse in childhood and bullying.


Violence including refusal to provide money for the household, pocket money, taking dowry (money/property) as a condition of marriage, putting pressure on the wife to obtain money from her parents.

Source: Excerpt from BBS (2013). Violence against Women Survey 2011. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS)

of the in-depth interviews were selected from all the halls in Dhaka University. Salimullah Muslim Hall was randomly selected from the hall list for the survey. The survey was conducted in Salimullah Muslim Hall (SM Hall) with thirty students. The average age of the respondents for the survey was twentythree years. Respondents were reported to be mainly from middle class (50%) and poor/working class (43%) families. Most of the students came from a rural background (96% from schools and 76% from colleges in a rural area).

Recurrent themes How do you know that a girl is valo/baje meye? (good/bad girl?] It is not possible to judge a girl from the outside. From the outside, she may seem very nice and of good character. But if you know her personal issues, you may see that she is a baje meye (bad girl). That is why there is no reason to consider a girl to be a valo meye (good girl) by her outward appearance and behaviour. SHASHISH: I see. But can the opposite be true? SAKIB: What do you mean? SHASHISH: SAKIB:

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As you said that you cannot judge a girl by her outward appearance. A seemingly good girl may be actually bad. But can a girl regarded as a bad girl actually be a good girl? SAKIB: Yes, maybe. SHASHISH: So how do you judge it? Because both can be false. SAKIB: Look. I am not going to argue with you. You just know it when you see them. The way they dress, the way they talk – everything indicates that Meyetar dosh ase (her character is flawed).7 Thus it is perceived that young men have unilateral power, given by society, to judge women and girls. The analysis of the interviews shows two broad categories defined by the young men for categorising women. The first category involves Bhalo meye (good girls) and the second category involves girls who are regarded as Baje meye (bad girls) or also called faltu meye (cheap girls). We find that young men have an understanding that categorises women in very specific ways. The conversation quoted above shows that the process of categorisation is entirely subjective and intuition based. Although the categorisation of women is based on intuition, the categorisation process involves certain features. That means young men’s personal opinion is enough to categorise a woman as a Bhalo meye or Baje may. This categorisation also helps young men to identify mates with whom they can develop romantic relationships. Ahsan8 said that “some girls love to have affairs with boys, they are more open” (to having romantic relationships with men). Men use the features of a ‘bad girl’ in order to decide which girls to target to have a romantic relationship with and which not to. The analysis of the conversation showed that young men identify and categorise women totally based on intuition, yet there are some key features they rely on. The analysis of the interviews showed that women are categorised based on two particular things– their clothes and body language. Dresses that are regarded as ‘tight’ (indicating dresses that reveal women’s body shape), kholamela jamakapor (indicating dresses revealing women’s body parts and sexuality) were the key words used to describe the features of women’s dress. Body language indicating openness and frankness towards men was identified as the feature of ‘Baje meye’ or a target of starting a romantic relationship. ‘Eye contact’ was identified as a key signal for young men. The manner of speaking, particularly loud voices, smiling, laughing and reactions to particular signals sent by young men were the main features of this categorisation. But this process still remains completely intuition based and subjective to each individual. The categorisation of women into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ particularly directs them towards choosing and rejecting mates and developing romantic relationships. This also gives them a sense of a woman’s ‘character’. Though they use various features to categorise women as bad and good girls, this process is found to be completely intuition based and subjective to each individual. Thus, it is almost impossible for a woman to be identified as ‘good’ by all men because of this non-uniform set of rules and subjectivity.


Shashish Shami Kamal

What are you doing your research on? I think it’s stupid doing research on men. You can do a research on how many of the girls are still virgin in Dhaka University. You will definitely find a very sexy result. . . [Laughing] 9 (Author’s interview with Sakib) We talk about sex alright, but not about our sex lives. Having sexual contact before marriage is a sin for us (Muslims). So, it is not a matter of pride to talk about our sex lives. But boys lose control sometimes. They make mistakes. “Apni to janen ajkalkar mayra kamon” (You know, how today’s women are). You cannot blame only the boys for making mistakes. If women were not like this today, boys wouldn’t have any opportunity to indulge in pre-marital sex.. I accept that men also play a part in it. But as long as they realise that it was a sin, we hope to be forgiven by Allah.10 (Author’s interview with Munna) The sarcastic comment above not only represents a respondent’s personal opinion, it is also part of a systematic process of undermining a group of girls. The insistence on virginity for unmarried women is very important in the culture of Bangladesh. This notion of ‘virginity’ is a mark of a so-called valo meye (good girl). The mentioned quotation shows that characterising a group of women as lacking ‘virginity’ is not a mere sexual remark, rather using the notion of ‘virginity’ to categorise a group of women as imperfect, without any moral character and as ‘Baje meye’ (bad girls). This also represents the cultural conceptualisation towards ‘virginity’ among women (Muna 2005 has elaborately discussed this issue). Men viewed the bad girls as a means of having sexual relationships and for ‘fun’ only. Many of the respondents talked about the practice of ‘following’ women and girls as a process of courtship. It was regarded as meyerpiche laga/piche ghura (following her). This was quite common and acceptable among the respondents. As Rasha stated: One of my friends used to follow a girl in the Udayan College.11 The girl at first showed some vaab [mood/attitude]. But he did not give up. He followed her everywhere. He did not say anything to her. Just looked at her and followed. One day the girl came to him and asked – “Why are you following me all the time?” My friend replied that she was so beautiful and he could not be without her. He also said that he tried not to stare at her, but it was out of his control. The girl smiled and went away. A few days later she met him again. Soon, they got involved in a relationship.12 (Author’s interview with Rasha) This incident shows that stalking is a common practice among young men which is regarded as part of their courtship. Most of the respondents who were involved in a relationship admitted to stalking a girl for a certain period. None of them considered it as threatening for the girl. It was considered as a normal process or what men do during courtship. There was an idea that stalking women is also a

Masculinity and violence against women


sign of showing interest and seriousness towards having a romantic relationship. Stalking is unwanted or obsessive attention by an individual or group towards another person. Stalking behaviours are related to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person or monitoring them. In Bangladesh, stalking is a criminal offence. Ahsan shared a story of his courtship: In the time when I was in the first year of university, I fell in love with a girl. I showed my interest to her continuously, but she thought I was not serious. I called her phone and sent various messages. She replied to the early ones, but later she did not reply anymore. Somehow, she knew about my background that I had been involved with other girls in the past. So, I made a plan. One day she was going to her home in Barisal [a district outside Dhaka]. I followed her without letting her know. The day after she reached her home, I sent her a message telling her to look from her baranda (balcony). She came to the balcony, and there I was – waiting for her with a red rose in my hand. That day she fell in love with me. I proposed to her on the phone and she accepted.13 (Author’s interview with Ahsan) This shows that ‘following/stalking’ is considered a part of the courtship process of young men. Young men express their sexual desire and interest by following young women. This approach is reported by many of the respondents as an acceptable process. But the survey result shows that the majority of the respondents reported that they did not stalk (67%) any women or their girlfriends in their lifetime. A common phenomenon among young men is the concept of moja kora or fun kora (having fun). Using mobiles to text unwanted comments to their female classmates and other girls has been identified as a common practice among young men. They also make unwanted calls to the girls in order to friendship kora (making friends) with girls they are not acquainted with. Many of the respondents identified it as a great source of time pass and fun. Ahsan stated: Many times I first made the move. I called the girls first. Girls are usually shy. So, I had to make the first move. If she did not want to have fun or talk with me, then I just wanted to be friends with her. This is how friendships are made and fun is had. If you don’t make the first move, you would never be able to be friends with the girls.14 (Author’s interview with Ahsan) The statement shows that sending texts and calling girls you don’t know are common practices of young men which they consider as taking the initiative or making the first move. The respondents of the in-depth interviews frequently practiced this behaviour in their life.


Shashish Shami Kamal TABLE 4.2 Respondents who texted, called or harassed women as a form of ‘Having Fun’


No of Respondents (%)

Yes No Total

24 (80%) 6 (20%) 30 (100%)

Source: Cross-sectional survey by author

The survey data shows that a majority of male students have been engaged in such practices (80%) in their lifetime. Both the qualitative and quantitative data validates ‘Having Fun’ as a common practice of young men. In the FGD with young women it was identified that women are often controlled by their boyfriends in the name of Valobasha (love). It is stated by a female participant in the group that: A common way to control a woman is saying to her: ‘amake valobashle amar kotha shunte hobe.’ (if you love me, you have to listen to me).15 This controlling mechanism uses the girl’s guilt and regret for restraining her from doing what she wants to do. The majority of the male students (67%) reported that they do not control or restrict their girlfriends’ mobility and preferences. Surprisingly the same controlling mechanism is often used against the young men also. As Ahsan stated: My girlfriend would cry on the phone. She would ask me to do various things that I didn’t want to do. She would tell me to marry her immediately and so on. She would often say that I could not refuse her request if I really loved her. But she doesn’t understand my situation. Now, I am not ready, and I cannot do anything stupid. She keeps crying and makes me feel guilty about it. I don’t like this behaviour.16 (Author’s interview with Ahsan) Ahsan is not the only respondent; there are several statements that provided evidence that young men as well as young women are often controlled through the use of guilt and in the name of love. The interesting part is that many of the young men agreed that this mechanism was frequently used against them. It was often used in their childhood by their parents and now by their girlfriends. Defaming17 of women is increasing as technology and ICT are used more and more as a means of violence against women (Lopa 2012). Respondents stated how ex-boyfriends of certain women enacted violence against their new boyfriends. It provided evidence that young men themselves had become victims of

Masculinity and violence against women


these acts of violence. Young men often term the practice of taking revenge and inflicting punishment as Shikkha dewa. Revenge takes place mostly due to a break-up with a girlfriend. Ahsan considered the rejection as disrespect towards him and that taking revenge would reclaim that self-respect. He also justified this enactment by questioning the character of the concerned girl. Ahsan shared his story with me on taking revenge against one of his ex-girlfriends. Ahsan is the only respondent among the fifteen who used the practice of Shikkhe dewa (teaching a lesson) against a woman. The incident goes like this: One of my girlfriends rejected me for no reason. She just suddenly wouldn’t talk to me. She thought she could walk away just like that. I wanted to Shikkha dewa [teach her a lesson] for life. I posted all her photos on the web. She used to send me her private photos. I posted them all on the web. A few days later she called me and begged me to take them down from the internet. I did. But she was too late. The photos had spread all around the web. It was a good lesson for her. If she could have just told me nicely that she no longer wanted to be with me, I would have happily ended the relationship. But she did not. She just totally ignored me. I don’t feel sorry for a magi [prostitute] like her.18 (Author’s interview with Ahsan) In the case of Ahsan, the respondent assumed that when he felt insulted it was his duty to teach the girl a lesson. This involved posting her photos without her permission. This is not an isolated incident that was enacted by Ahsan only. This form of revenge and punishment is often seen in the public domain. Recently there was a picture shared by a young man which defamed a young girl in the ninth class in a similar way. The survey shows that 13% of young men have taken revenge on their girlfriends or other women in their lifetime. The majority of the respondents had not. Yet, within a small sample 13% can be regarded as quite high.

Discussion The analysis of various case studies and observations has unfolded some behaviours which cannot be regarded as random or isolated actions of young men. These behaviours consist of certain patterns which are embedded in the structural construction of their idea of masculinity as young men. These practices work as informal institutional arrangements for young men which have to be enacted for embedding masculinity into one’s identity.

Bhalo meye/baje meye (Good girl/Bad girl) All women, whether maintaining traditional femininity or enacting a new one, are categorised by the young men based on a totally subjective and intuition-based


Shashish Shami Kamal

process. This categorisation involves a valo meye/baje meye (good girl/bad girl) dichotomy that ensures women’s subordination to men. This practice does not operate in a conscious way but in an intuitive way as Sakib stated – “You just know it when you see them.”

Moja kora (Having fun) Showing sexual interest is a part of hegemonic masculinity for young men. This also helps them to get involved in a romantic relationship with women and girls. Following/stalking, jokes, remarks, sending texts, internet stalking, (HDRC [Human Development Research Centre] 2013) are regarded as acts of sexual harassment and are termed as violence against women and girls (VAWG) under Bangladesh law. Calling girls who one does not know personally is also considered to be an act of VAWG under Bangladesh law. But these acts are considered to be common practices in the courtship process of young men who often describe them as Moja kora (Having fun). The survey data also shows that a majority of the students have engaged in such practices (80%) in their lifetime.

Piche ghura (Following/Stalking) Acts that are categorised as ‘violent acts’ in development/rights discussions are often considered as activities that are related with fun, romance and revenge for young men. Activities like following or stalking are categorised as acts of sexual harassment (HDRC 2013) and VAWG in Bangladesh. But these activities are a part of Piche ghura/piche laga (following/stalking, showing sexual interest) which is considered the normal process of courtship for young men. The survey results show that a majority of the respondents reported that they did not stalk (67%) any women or their girlfriends in their lifetime.

Kotha shuna (Controlling mechanism) Men maintain control over women by enacting the practice of kotha shuna which uses love and guilt as a controlling mechanism. But this practice is often used against men themselves. It is quite common among students.

Shikkha dewa (Revenge) A key reason for defaming a girl is taking revenge and inflicting punishment. Sometimes, especially when women challenge young men’s masculinity by rejecting love proposals and sexual offers, the practice of Shikkha dewa (teaching a lesson) is enacted by men in order to reclaim their masculinity. Young men often defame women by publishing private photos or videos in the public domain. It can also take the form of acid throwing, rape, sexual harassment and physical violence. Young men justify enacting various practices like Shikkha dewa

Masculinity and violence against women


(teaching a lesson/revenge and punishment) against women and girls. By enacting this practice, on the one hand they reclaim their honour from the women who challenged their masculinity, on the other hand, it sustains the existing gender order of society by keeping women subordinate to men. These punishments may be directed against a particular woman or against the entire female gender. This is not a common practice among young men, though it is often enacted during particular situations (breakup, insult etc). Women in Bangladesh are traditionally not pressurised to work outside home or be in the public sphere for participating in the labour market. They are considered as the caregivers of the family. But as Muna (2005: 18) has observed: “. . .practical economic considerations in today’s world make it acceptable for them (women) to join the workforce and to contribute to family finances”. There is a greater participation of women in educational institutions. The rate of increase in women’s labour force is higher than that of men, though the total number of women in the labour force is less than half of the total of men in the labour force (Ali 2013). Women’s transition in the employment sector is a recent phenomenon and is not an essential component of femininity among women. This increasing participation has challenged the traditional gender order of society. Thus, the women who challenge the gender order and incorporate a new form of femininity that deviates from the traditional femininity are regarded as a threat to hegemonic masculinity. This group of women is often referred to as Ajkalkar meye, (modern women). They challenge the gender order by practising increased personal and sexual freedom. Such women are often referred to as baje meye (bad girls) by using notions of virginity, character and imperfection (impurity) and treated as sexual objects by young men. The practice towards this particular group of women is a systematic process of undermining women using the traditional notion of ‘purity’. This issue is well documented by Imtiaz (2012) where he uses the concept of ‘symbolic violence’ to explain the violence against ultra-modern women. Practices like Piche ghura (following/stalking), moja kora (having fun) are based on the premise that following or calling a girl who might be a stranger, is an expression of sexual desire. Following women and girls, calling girls who one does not know frequently on their phones and texting unwanted and socially perceived obscene messages are practices that ensure the expression of sexual desires. These are manifested through the practices of piche ghura (following/ stalking), moja kora (having fun) which are often referred to as a courtship process of men expressing their sexual desires. Kothashuna ensures male domination over the female in a romantic relationship. But these practices also ensure the subordination of women as the decisions are often imposed on women whether they like it or not. Enactment of these practices often ensures that all femininities remain in a subordinate position to hegemonic masculinity. Taking revenge is not a very common practice, but modern technology and the social context it creates has made it very easy for young men to defame a woman and take revenge against her. The study of Lopa (2012) finds similar results where young men identified various acts of violence as ‘fun’ activities through the use of technology.


Shashish Shami Kamal

Conclusion Being a young man is defined in relation to the enactment of practices determined by the hegemonic masculinity of society. The dominant gender practices are derived from the social construction of hegemonic masculinity. In the gender order of Dhaka University, young men who successfully enact these practices are considered to be embodying the dominant masculinity. The level of enactment of these practices determines a young man’s social position in the gender order. Hegemonic masculinity provides the configuration of practices that entails the social practices of young men for gaining power. Thus, the practices must be incorporated with various aspects of power. The practices of young men are related to their construction of masculinity. The dominant gender practices originate from the dominant masculinity in the gender order. The construction of hegemonic masculinity fixes some practices for young men as “the honoured way of being a man” (Connell and Messerschmidt 2005). Enactment of these gender practices is considered to be the requirement of being a man in Dhaka University. A young man’s social position in the gender order is determined by the level of enactment of these gender practices. These practices are the manifestation of various aspects of power in the domain of society in order to maintain the dominant position of men and masculinity over women and femininity. The enactment of gender practices that interact with the aspects of power relates young men’s construction of masculinity to hegemonic masculinity and places them in a higher position in the gender order. So, it can be concluded that the practices of young men are a way of uplifting one’s masculinity as the dominant masculinity in the social structure. In this way, young men’s practices, which are gendered, relate to the construction of their masculinity. But the presence of various practices among different respondents showed that there can be variation within the practices among young men. This shows the importance of agency in the social structure. The exercise of agency can bring change to the overall practices among men and challenge the existing gender order. By enacting various social practices, young men find themselves climbing up towards hegemonic masculinity and being in a dominant position of the gender order. Thus, many acts which are considered to be gender-based violence in the development discourse are embedded in the daily life practices of the young men. These practices are by no means isolated acts, rather, they are a manifestation of various aspects of power for maintaining hegemonic masculinity in the gender order. But the exercise of human agency can open up cracks in the existing gender order. Thus, the process of desirable change should begin with a focus on changing practices.

Annex 4.A Male-to-female ratio 12,297 residential students Population of male residential students= 8,060 (65.54%)

Masculinity and violence against women


Population of female residential students= 4,237 (34.46%) Sample Design: Probability sampling with proportional to size Sample Size

SS ¼

Z 2 pð1  pÞ SS   New SS ¼ 2 SS1 C 1þ Pop

Where, Z= 1.96 P= 0.694 Confidence level= 95% C=5% Population= 8,060 (Male) Sample Size= 313 A proportional division of the sample Randomly chosen hall (1): Salimullah Muslim Hall Sample size: Total Respondents =30

TABLE 4.A.1 Residential Halls (Male)

Residential Halls

Residential Students

Proportion of the Male Population

No. of male Respondents

Salimullah Muslim Hall Shahidullah Hall Jagannath Hall Fazlul Haque Muslim Hall Zahurul Haque Hall Surja Sen Hall Haji Muhammad Mohsin Hall Kazi Jasimuddin Hall A.F. Rahman Hall Muktijoddha Ziaur Rahman Hall Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Hall Amar Ekushey Hall Total

805 1,220 1,550 766 725 577 540 397 496 484 450 450 8,460

10% 15% 14% 9% 9% 7% 7% 6% 6% 6% 5% 6% 100%

30 47 58 30 27 22 20 15 19 20 17 18 323

Source: 91st Annual Report (2011–2012), Published in June 2013

Annex 4.B

TABLE 4.B.1 Self-reported class


Low Middle Upper Total



Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

13 15 2 30

43.3 50.0 6.7 100.0

43.3 50.0 6.7 100.0

43.3 93.3 100.0

Source: Cross-sectional survey result

TABLE 4.B.2 Age





0 22.70

Mean Source: Cross-sectional survey result

TABLE 4.B.3 School background


Rural Urban Total



Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

29 1 30

96.7 3.3 100.0

96.7 3.3 100.0

96.7 100.0

Source: Cross-sectional survey result

TABLE 4.B.4 College background


Rural Urban Total



Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

23 7 30

76.7 23.3 100.0

76.7 23.3 100.0

76.7 100.0

Source: Cross-sectional survey result

TABLE 4.B.5 Having fun


Yes No Total



Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

24 6 30

80.0 20.0 100.0

80.0 20.0 100.0

80.0 100.0

Source: Cross-sectional survey result

TABLE 4.B.6 Stalking


Yes No Total



Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

10 20 30

33.3 66.7 100.0

33.3 66.7 100.0

33.3 100.0

Source: Cross-sectional survey result

TABLE 4.B.7 Revenge


Yes No Total



Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

4 26 30

13.3 86.7 100.0

13.3 86.7 100.0

13.3 100.0

Source: Cross-sectional survey result

TABLE 4.B.8 Control

Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent Valid Not Valid 4 Yes 6 No 20 Total 30

13.3 13.3 20.0 20.0 66.7 66.7 100.0 100.0

Source: Cross-sectional survey result

13.3 33.3 100.0


Shashish Shami Kamal

Notes 1 Female Students who were currently studying in a university. 2 In this phase, author had spent at least seven to eight hours with Nihal (14–16 September 2013), Ahsan (17–18 September 2013), Sakib (19–20 September 2013), Mushfiq (21–22 September 2013), Manik (23–24 September 2013). These five respondents were chosen based on their interviews out of the initial fifteen respondents. After that, a cross-sectional survey was conducted which did not include these fifteen respondents in the sample. 3 Here, this is to be noted that we considered the virtual field also a part of the social and gender relations. This was done because the virtual part of our social relationships have various implications for our actual social relationships, thus they are connected. 4 The Sampling procedure is given in Annex I. 5 BBS. (2013). Violence Against Women Survey 2011. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). 6 This indicates how violence against women is defined in the major national survey in Bangladesh. This definition is used to collect data on violence and represent the Government of Bangladesh. 7 Author’s interview with Sakib. 8 Author’s interview with Ahsan. 9 Author’s interview with Sakib. 10 Author’s interview with Munna. 11 This is a school and college which is situated in the DU beside SM Hall. 12 Author’s interview with Rasha. 13 Author’s interview with Ahsan. 14 Author’s interview with Ahsan. 15 Authors ‘Focus Group Discussion’ with five young women, 13 August 2013, Arts Building, University of Dhaka. 16 Author’s interview with Ahsan. 17 The term ‘Defaming’ has been used in Lopa (2012). 18 Author’s interview with Ahsan.

Funding The Study was funded by the Center for Men and Masculinities Studies (CMMS) in Bangladesh.

References Ali, M.A. (2013). Women and Employment. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Unnayan Onneshan. Connell, R.W., Messerschmidt, J.W. (2005). Hegemonic masculinity rethinking the concept. Gender & Society, Vol. 19, no. 6, pp. 829–859. Giddens, A. (2006). Sociology. Cambridge: Polity Press. HDRC (Human Development Research Centre). (2013). Situational Analysis of Sexual Harassment at Tertiary Level Education Institutes in and around Dhaka. Dhaka, Bangladesh: UN Women. icddr,b (International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh). (2011). Men’s attitude and practices regarding gender and violence against women in Bangladesh: Preliminary findings. Dhaka, Bangladesh: iccddr,b. Imtiaz, S.M.S. Imtiaz, S.M.S. (2012). Young Men in a Colourful City Masculinity: Young Men’s Sexual Practices, and HIV/AIDS in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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Lopa, M.J. (2012). Use of ICT, Masculinity and Enactment of Violence: A Study among Young Men in Bangladesh. [Online] Available at: q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCUQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww. ba_Use_of_ICT_Masculinity_and_Enactment_of_Violence_A_Study_among_Young_ Men_in_Bangladesh_0.PDF&ei=a7CdUpy4IYSFrger9YEQ&usg=AFQjCNE PIsXr8mXKq8mawgpEnEkTW4KTjw&bvm=bv.57155469,d.bmk [Last Viewed on 17th November, 2013]. Mahtab, N. (2012). Women, Gender and Development: Contemporary Issues. Dhaka, Bangladesh: AH Development Publishing House. Miedzian, M. (1991). Boys will be boys: Breaking the link between masculinity and violence. New York: Doubleday. Muna, L. (2005). Romance and Pleasure: Understanding the Sexual Conduct of Young People in Dhaka in the Era of HIV and AIDS. Dhaka, Bangladesh: The University Press Limited. National Institute of Population Research and Training (NIPORT), Mitra and Associates, and ICF International. (2013). Bangladesh.

5 BEYOND MALE ROLE MODELS Gender identities and work with young men in the UK Sandy Ruxton, Martin Robb, Brid Featherstone and Michael R.M. Ward

Questioning the male role model discourse In recent decades, boys and young men have become a key focus of public and political anxiety in many countries. These include Brazil, the Caribbean and North America (Barker 2005; Cobbett and Younger 2012; Greig 2012), India (Osella and Osella 2006) and Southern Africa (Ouzgane and Morrell 2005). Some analyses of these issues have focussed on a range of countries around the world (Seidler 2006; Ruspini, Hearn, Pease and Pringle 2011; Edström, Hassink, Shahrokh and Stern 2015). In the UK, concerns have encompassed their apparent educational underachievement relative to that of girls; high rates of suicide and mental health problems; detachment from the labour market (McDowell 2003); and concern about offending and anti-social behaviour (Featherstone, Rivett and Scourfield2007; Robb 2007; Roberts 2014; Ruxton 2009). Indeed, boys have increasingly been defined in the media debate and public policy as ‘at risk’ and as a ‘risk’ to others (Syal 2013). These concerns have developed alongside a ‘crisis’ in masculinity discourse (Roberts 2014), which has overtaken other issues of poverty, racism and structural inequalities in young men’s lives; these factors have been neglected in recent public debate. A range of commentators has argued that the absence of fathers and of male role models from the lives of many young men are key factors in their involvement in crime and educational underachievement (Murray 1990; Dennis and Erdos 1992; Reach 2007; Lammy 2011). Concern about the lack of male role models has encompassed the private and the public sphere, the family and public services. In terms of public services, much of the analysis has focused on education, and in particular primary education (Harnett and Lee 2003; Martino 2008). Recent years have also witnessed campaigns to increase men’s representation in services where

Beyond male role models


they have always been a minority, or else absent, in professions such as early years and childcare (Brannen, Statham, Mooney and Brockmann 2007). A discourse focused on the importance of ‘male role models’ has become the common currency of popular and policy discussion, consisting of a set of assumptions and rhetorical strategies that have come to be accepted as ‘common sense’ on the basis of limited evidence and with little challenge. The dominance of this discourse is important because it has been used to justify a range of policy and practice interventions. These include seeking to increase the engagement of adult male workers with young men (particularly working class, black and minority ethnic young men). In the UK context, under the last Labour government (1997–2010) programmes included the ‘Playing for Success’ programme to promote footballers as role models for boys, and the REACH Programme using male role models to raise the level of attainment and achievement of black boys (Featherstone 2009). This trend was continued by the Coalition government from 2010 onwards: it developed a ‘Troops to Teachers’ programme to recruit ex-Service personnel into teaching, aimed at engendering respect, particularly among young men (Burkhard 2008; Dermott 2012). Responses by government and opposition politicians to the riots of summer 2011 diagnosed an apparent lack of male role models for young men as a key factor behind the disturbances (Lammy 2011; Mahadevan 2011). However, it is unclear what the meaning and function of ‘male role models’ might be, and how the process of modelling operates in practice. Certainly assumptions that boys need male role models to develop a ‘correct’ gender identity are open to theoretical challenge. There is evidence that women, including mothers, grandmothers and female friends, have a significant impact on boys’ development (Robb 2010), and that positive father and mother involvement includes common factors (O’Brien 2005). Theorists such as Connell (1995) argue that individuals do not ‘learn’ their correct gender and sexual identity through internalising social expectations. Gender is not a property of the individual or something imposed but rather a complex set of practices and relations. It is always negotiated by active subjects within each and every social encounter, although these are subject to dominant notions of how men and women are supposed to be (Hicks 2008). Since the 1970s, research has been carried out exploring how young men engage as active subjects with each other, with girls, and with adults such as teachers, particularly in school settings (Willis 1977; O’Donnell and Sharpe 2000; Skelton 2003; Martin and Marsh 2005). This research suggests the need for caution in simply asserting that having male role models in schools is ‘good’ for boys: the nature of the teaching seems more important than the gender of the teacher. The intersections with class and ethnicity have also emerged as being of significance in understanding resistance, negotiation and a range of social practices (Frosh, Phoenix and Pattman 2002; Bricheno and Thornton 2007; Ward 2014). The role that homophobia, heterosexuality and hegemonic masculinity play in limiting male teachers’ professional identities and their pedagogical practices has also been highlighted (Martino 2008).


Sandy Ruxton et al.

However, there has been little research on the relationship between young men and support services and little examination of the impact (if any) of the gender of the worker, or of what a role model might be or do, and how this might be understood by boys and young men. Whilst there is important research on the importance of relationships, including those built up between professionals and boys who offend in supporting desistance from offending, there has been little exploration of the gender issues involved, particularly in recent years (McNeill 2006). Generally, there is limited recent research on how boys and young men engage with workers in a range of welfare settings and what they value, including interrogating the importance of the gender of the worker. Our study aimed to address this gap.

Research objectives and methodology There were four main objectives of the study. First, it set out to explore whether the gender identity of the worker made a difference to developing good quality relationships between workers and young men. Second, it sought to explore how gender interacted with other aspects of identity such as class and ethnicity. Third, it aimed to explore how professional relationships with boys and young men could be improved, and the lessons for professional practice more generally. And finally, it sought to contribute to policy, practice and academic debates about the development of young masculinities and young men’s transitions to adulthood. The main focus of the research project1 was a series of individual and group interviews involving young service users and staff at a range of Action for Children and other services across the United Kingdom. The research team also engaged in a number of related activities. A review of the academic and research literature was undertaken, exploring key themes of young masculinities and youth identities, with a particular focus on vulnerable or ‘troubled’ young men. An analysis of policy issues relevant to the research topic was undertaken, drawing on policy documents, political speeches and media commentary. And a short video film of the project was produced, featuring young men and those who work with them, in order to share the findings of the research in a lively and accessible way, and to stimulate discussion about the implications for policy and practice. The bulk of the interviews were carried out by a young male researcher, supported on occasion by both male and female members of the research team. The research team were aware that the presence of a male interviewer, particularly within a group, might engender a sense of shared male experience, even bonding, with male interviewees (Robb 2004). There was a risk that this might encourage the kind of talk (joking or banter?) common in men-only contexts, and could make it more difficult to address sensitive subjects. In practice, however, this did not appear to be the case. Moreover, most male interviewees did ‘open up’ on an individual basis; contrary to stereotypes, most young men were keen to talk, and articulate their experiences (Ward 2015).

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For the project, a total of ninety-three participants were interviewed between November 2013 and June 2014, either individually, in pairs or as part of group interviews. This can be broken down into the following categories: young men (fifty); young women (fourteen); male staff (twelve); and female staff (seventeen). The majority of the young people between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five; forty-four were white and twenty were from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds. The services where interviews took place included those working with young offenders, care leavers, young carers and disabled young people. Most of the interviews took place at Action for Children services across the United Kingdom, but some were organised at projects run by another NGO, Working With Men, in London. Efforts were made to ensure that the services involved reflected diversity in terms of location, service type and the kinds of young people involved. The final list included Action for Children services in the West of Scotland, North Wales, Cornwall and Dorset, in addition to projects in London run by Working With Men. Initial visits were made to participating services by members of the research team, in order to explain the research to managers and staff, who then helped to recruit young service users for the study. At some research sites young people who had not originally been selected by staff became interested and agreed to be interviewed after seeing their friends take part. Ethical approval was gained from the Open University’s Human Research Ethics Committee and the study followed ethical protocols used by the university and by Action for Children. Research participants, whether young people or staff, were provided with information sheets explaining the research process and confidentiality issues, and were invited to sign consent forms. Limits to confidentiality – e.g. in case of a disclosure relating to serious harm, abuse and/or other safeguarding/child protection concerns – were made explicit. Participants were able to withdraw their consent at any time during the focus group or interview, or up to two weeks after the focus group or interview. A small reward in the form of a voucher was given to young people who took part in the research. The study was conducted using a qualitative methodology (Coffey and Atkinson 1996; Denzin and Lincoln 2005; Denscombe 2008; Bryman 2012), which enabled participants’ experiences and perspectives to be explored in an in-depth and open-ended way. A flexible semi-structured interview schedule was used, in which participants were encouraged to talk about their past experiences and current lives, with a particular focus on their identities as young men, their experience of support services and their relationships with staff. The individual and group interviews took place in a wide variety of locations, including youth centres, meeting rooms, offices, cafés, and occasionally, in private homes. Some interviews were undertaken individually, some in pairs and some as part of group discussions. All the interviews were digitally recorded and subsequently transcribed. The names of the participants were changed and the names and locations of services removed in order to protect the anonymity of those taking part.


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Teenage boys and young men are often regarded as difficult subjects to engage in the research process, although there are examples of studies that have been successful in engaging them (see, for example, McDowell 2001; Frosh, Phoenix and Pattman 2002; Ward 2015). The research process for this study was often difficult and challenging. While staff went to great lengths to recruit young men to take part in interviews, often phoning or texting many times, and even travelling to bring participants to the interviews in person, attendance was often unpredictable. Many of the young people interviewed had a range of social, behavioural, emotional or educational difficulties, which meant that formal interviewing was not always possible or as productive as we anticipated, even when using a flexible interview schedule. The researchers had anticipated that the young men would be likely to act differently in group interviews and individual interviews. In particular, the impact of peer pressure in groups can lead young men to ‘perform’, sparking off each other, ‘having a laugh’, and generally displaying livelier, louder and more assertive behaviour than they would do on their own. Whilst individual interviews provided the opportunity to discuss issues and experiences on a more personal, even intimate, basis, the researchers found there was nevertheless value in engaging with young men on a collective basis. Public ‘performance’ reflects the ways that masculinities are actively produced, negotiated and policed by young men, and the combination of group and individual interviews revealed a complex interplay in the ways masculinities played out in different contexts. Once all of the interviews had been transcribed, together with fieldwork notes kept by the researchers, the research team used a process of thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke 2012) to analyse the data. An initial coding framework was developed, and these codes were then reviewed against examples from the data by members of the research team. Codes were grouped together under a number of headings, reflecting emerging themes as well as the original research questions. Individual team members undertook detailed qualitative analysis of particular themes, drawing on data from across the study. The emerging findings were shared with leading practitioners during an expert seminar in London during January 2015, and the conclusions were used to further refine the findings, which are reported in the next section.

Findings This section provides an overview of the main findings from the research project, under five headings: family relationships; doing gender locally; a third space; good workers and positive relationships; and male role models.

1 Family relationships Although family relationships were not the main focus of the research, many of the young men interviewed talked about their family backgrounds. The

Beyond male role models


connection between family relationships and the young men’s current lives, including their gender identities, was significant, but also complex and varied. Some young men’s families provided them with a dependable source of support. Young men often communicated a belief in the importance of blood ties even when their own experience of family life had been problematic. However, many young men had difficult relationships with parents and family troubles had been instrumental in the problems they faced. There was often a sense of problems being intergenerational, with young men inheriting and imitating their parents’ troubles. In some instances there was the suggestion of a wider community culture of poverty and addiction. Families could act as a route into trouble, rather than as a protection against it: for example, if other family members were already involved in risky behaviour. INTERVIEWER:

Oh you were in a gang were you? Aye, looked up to them, never had any big brothers or that, did have an older brother, but he was a junkie ya know. INTERVIEWER: So with the gangs stuff then, how did you get involved in it? ADAM: All my family was involved, brought up with it, my pals were in it. (Young man, white, Scotland) ADAM:

Many of the young men spoke about having strong female influences in their lives. Mothers were often spoken of as providing a reliable source of support, and many of the young men lived with their mothers rather than their fathers. Grandmothers were also important in the lives of some young men, and in cases where parents were themselves facing problems, could provide an alternative and more consistent source of support. Fathers were often absent from the lives of the young men who were interviewed. Even when fathers were present, relationships could be problematic and many young men expressed ambivalent feelings towards their fathers. On the one hand, some young men expressed respect for their fathers, especially if they did the ‘right thing’, such as providing for their families. However, despite persistent ties of affection, some young men were adamant that they had no respect for their fathers. I haven’t chatted to him in, what is it, ten and a half years [. . .] And I will always love him, because he is my dad, but I don’t have any physical, or any face-to-face contact with him, because you know, I don’t respect him and don’t like him and just love him based on the fact that he is my dad. (Young man, white, Cornwall)


Some of the young men interviewed were fathers themselves, and saw the experience of fatherhood as a catalyst for moving away from a youthful, irresponsible masculinity to a more adult, responsible identity. While this new


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identity could provide the motivation for making a transition, it could also be a source of conflict with former friends and activities, and there was often a sense of the fragility of newly acquired identities. Obviously I got bairns and that, so I’ve had to grow up [. . .] For me now my life’s about getting a job, family, basically, in a nut shell it is family, that is like, very, very important [. . .] I’m trying to be a respectful person, I don’t wanna walk down the street, and seeing all that stuff, because when I am walking down the street with my wee boy, if I’ve been doing that at the weekend, rolling about with people, then I am walking down the street and I might bump into these people you know. (Young man, white, Scotland)


2 Doing gender locally Across all of the research locations we found that a culture of hypermasculinity operated in the background of the lives of many of young men and acted as a default reference point. This was displayed through acts of violence, physicality, substance misuse, drinking large amounts of alcohol and aggressive heterosexuality. The services they attended, and the staff who worked with them, attempted to challenge these assumptions and to guide the young men towards a ‘safer’ masculinity, so that they could lead more ‘successful’ lives in the future. However, a successful transition to adulthood meant different things for young men in different localities. These differences were most stark when comparing a deindustrialised community in the West of Scotland with inner-city London. ‘Place’ seemed to impact not only on the formation of a masculine self, but also on the way education and employment choices and relationship opportunities were viewed. Contrary to assumptions that, in a globalised and media-saturated world, young people draw on similar resources in constructing their sense of self, we found that local expectations of what it means to be a man were key to understanding young men’s masculine identities. Young men and workers in both the West of Scotland and inner London were aware of local pressures to be a certain type of man. INTERVIEWER:

Do you feel pressure to be a certain type of person in this area? Yeah, act in a certain way and just try to impress people, try to stand up, don’t be a pussy, kind of smoke more, you kind of get known, you kind of like, yeah, just kind of like, and make people like you, kind of like famous and that. (Young man, BME, London)


Some young men reported that maintaining an aggressive form of masculinity was essential in order to survive on the streets where they lived.

Beyond male role models



So if you don’t have that tough guy act on you, or a wee bit of confidence. . . BURT: You are going to get chewed up, in ya, man. (Young men, white, Scotland) Gangs in both the West of Scotland and inner London were a major breeding ground for much of the behaviour described above and a cauldron of masculinity making, as well as providing a sense of belonging. Perhaps surprisingly, gangs were also an issue for young men in rural Cornwall. Away from the street and the hypermasculinity that it seemed to foster, the young men who attended services were engaged with workers in building alternative futures and what can be described as ‘safe’ masculine identities. However, these successful transitions were built around different expectations of acceptable manhood, depending to a great extent on locality. For the young men who were interviewed in the West of Scotland, it was through waged labour, often described in traditional working-class terms and bringing with it the ability to support a family, that an acceptable masculinity could be created. Well. . . ..just want to stay out of jail, you know what I mean, stay with my bird, get a job, stay out of trouble like. INTERVIEWER: OK, so what would be your ideal job then? JACK: Well, go in the army and do the dog training. WAYNE: Hopefully have a decent job and me own house probably, try and start a family, see what happens. (Young men, white, Scotland) JACK:

For the young men in London, by contrast, the route to an acceptable and ‘safe’ form of masculinity was often through education courses which would enable them to find work in a knowledge-driven economy, while others spoke of creating their own individual employment opportunities or setting up their own companies: CORTEZ:

I’m really serious about business and that, design my clothes, that’s what I’m planning to do, and obviously, IT, so I’m good at computers and websites and that. (Young man, BME, London)

In contrast to the young men in the West of Scotland, those from London could be seen to have embraced the post-industrial era. These young men also seemed less interested in traditional signs of working-class male respectability, such as starting a family or acquiring their own home, and influenced more by consumerism and a desire to acquire money, whether through work or other means.


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3 A third space The interviews with young men provided strong evidence that services acted as essential ‘third spaces’ in young people’s lives, helping them to navigate often difficult transitions between adolescence and adulthood. They offered attractive activities, a safe environment to meet with their peers, and provided emotional support and practical advice. When asked what they liked about the services they attended, young men often said they valued the opportunity to meet, socialise and engage in activities with their friends. At a club for disabled young people in Cornwall, the group told the interviewer that they liked the opportunities provided by the centre to go on trips, see friends, play football, watch films, and play computer games. Interviews at a London youth club similarly emphasised the range of activities that it was possible to do there. For some young men, it was important to be ‘occupied’ – and going to a centre was, at least in part, a means to stay away from crime and other risky activities. The centre provided a structure to their day that would otherwise be lacking (and maybe a sense of the discipline needed to hold down a job). As more than one young man put it: ‘It gets you out of bed in the morning’. While some may be sceptical about the value of providing spaces where young men can play pool or table tennis, such activities can provide an important focus for staff to engage with young men. Moreover, many young men don’t find sitting quietly, talking and thinking about how they feel very easy, and engaging in activities can help young men to express and explore their feelings; for workers, activities can also provide a vehicle for building relationships with young men. This knock-on impact was evident in the projects visited for this research. At a deeper level, it was clear that young men also valued the emotional support and practical help they received from staff: EDDIE:

They get your head right out of ya arse! They help you anyway possible. If you’re ever stuck for anything, or want advice for anything, they help you get things off ya back. If it wasn’t for Action for Children, I wouldn’t have f – all. (Young man, white, Scotland)


Well, we’re just left to get on with it but then we’ve always got that support if we need it. We’re given freedom, without just sort of letting go, but there’s always support. (Young man, white, Dorset)

Once young men have ‘stabilised’ and spent some time in a project, a key issue is the mechanisms that exist for progressing to positive (and safe) futures, and how staff can support this transition. Conversely, there may be risks in young men staying too long on projects, becoming (too?) comfortable there, and as a result

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resisting opportunities to ‘move on’. There was, however, some evidence that young men acknowledged the importance of working towards a different future, and that this was a gradual process. An important element was feeling secure in the project environment. The young men often contrasted their project with the difficult and dangerous environments that they faced outside. For some, particularly those in the London projects from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, coming to the centre was one way of avoiding hanging around on the street and getting stopped by the police: ENZO:

I come and play pool, I use the gym, my friends come here, it’s better than being outside, where the police will stop you and harass you. (Young man, BME, London)

4 Good workers and positive relationships Participants in the study were asked about what they thought made a ‘good’ worker and to reflect on whether gender made a difference to the working relationship. The young men interviewed were acutely attuned to the meanings of behaviours and context. Thus it was not just what was done (for example, a worker making them a cup of tea or helping them fill out a benefit form), although that was important and appreciated, but it was also how and why. The ‘how’ referred to the conveying of respect and this could be tangible or intangible. Tangibles included workers doing what they said they would do. As for intangibles, Burt, a young white man in one of the Scottish projects, said: “It’s hard, but you just know you can trust them.” The ‘why’ refers to the judgements the boys made about workers. There was a concern that good workers should care, and that they should not see what they were doing as ‘just a job’ (more of a vocation, though they did not use this word). The young men privileged the individual characteristics of workers (although within a common framework of being listened to and respected) rather than categorical characteristics, such as that the workers belonged to a particular gender or class – indeed, an explicit language of class was completely absent. However, the focus in some accounts on workers having been through similar experiences could be seen as an individualised reworking in a contemporary context of older concerns with class. Although the young men made decisions about the trustworthiness of workers based on how they were treated, as with the young women, there was a generalised distrust of certain professions such as social workers and teachers. There were some limited references to racism being an aspect of a ‘bad’ worker, but again strong statements that the worker being from the same ethnicity was not relevant to building a good relationship: it is all down to the individual. The young men in Scotland particularly considered the workers as ‘pals’ or ‘friends’. It is important to contrast this with the views of the workers, who were clear on the need to develop strong personal relationships with the young men,


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but within an understanding of the importance of boundaries and an explicit rejection of the notion of being their friend. There is a fine line here between on the one hand emphasising the commonalities between men, and on the other potential collusion with harmful attitudes and behaviours, and it is important that male workers take steps to avoid the latter. The young women’s responses did not differ much from those of the young men, in terms of the importance of respect and trust and how these might be conveyed. There was a similar concern that it should be more than a ‘job’ to the workers. They also appreciated a strengths-based approach and contrasted this with the attitudes of teachers. The young women emphasised the keeping of confidentiality as key to trust, perhaps more so than the young men. There was a nuancing of the ‘shared experience’ theme from at least one young woman, with a sense that workers should be able to engage with service users and hear their stories but not make assumptions that their experiences are the same. Some young women appeared able to articulate contradiction and nuance in a way that was not often obvious in the interviews with young men. For example, a white female service user in Dorset acknowledged the tightrope workers had to negotiate between supporting them and challenging their more ‘ridiculous’ ideas. The young women’s accounts echoed the focus in the young men’s interviews on the importance of individuals, and again there was a backdrop of a generalised distrust of certain professionals such as social workers. The young women acknowledged loss and multiple professional relationships and talked of being like a worker’s ‘children’ in a context where they had experienced great instability with other relationships. The male workers also emphasised the importance of focusing on the individual project user and their story, on the respect they deserve, and on a strengths-based approach to the work. BILLY:

Everyone’s got a story and that’s something that I always keep with me. You might walk past someone in the street, you might think: “Oh, they look a bit rough, or whatever,” but everyone’s got a story. And I tend, when we get referrals, sometimes young people sound quite chaotic or quite high risk or a bit of a nightmare. And I always try and think what’s happened in their previous sixteen years or whatever to get them to here. So I think, yeah, bearing that in mind, not being judgemental, being understanding. (Male worker, white, Dorset)

There was no consensus among male workers on the qualifications issue. Some thought they were necessary, but there was a great deal of emphasis on being ‘real’, not putting on a false facade, caring and having a passion for the work. A minority stressed intellectual capacity and the importance of not confusing care in a professional sense with the kind of care you would have for family members. But this was more a

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question of emphasis than an alternative and oppositional discourse to that which stresses the importance of being able to build rapport and to engage productively. The views of female workers were very similar to those of the male workers. Building and sustaining relations were central activities. Care was the thread running through the work, trumping differences of all kinds, including qualifications, and gender and ethnicity. There was some concern to compensate for the discriminatory behaviour of others. But generally, there was a denial of difference deriving from gender, ethnicity and so on, and a celebration of individual differences. There was no recourse to a language of structural inequality. For example, misogyny towards women workers from young men was explained in terms of the young men’s experiences of poor care from women. There was an emphasis on understanding why young men might get frustrated and swear at them. While the language of risk was present, it was subordinated to an emphasis on understanding individuals and their difficulties. There was a rejection of authoritarian masculinity as useful in their work, which is about ‘care’, but a view that it might be necessary in a more ‘harsh’ occupation like social work. We found that supervision and reflecting on one’s work were only mentioned by female staff. The effect on self of dealing with trauma was also emphasised more by women than male workers.

5 Male role models? Although the terms ‘role model’ and ‘male role model’ were used spontaneously by some young men and workers, there was a lack of clarity about what these terms actually meant. If understood as a simple process of transmission of masculine values from workers to young men, then role modelling does not seem like a useful concept to apply to the relationships described by participants in this research. On the other hand, if role modelling is understood as “an active process of negotiation, rather than a passive process of transmission” (Cameron, Moss and Owen 1999), then it may have more value. Viewed in this way, role modelling is about workers and young men co-constructing identities and relationships. This seems more akin to the practices observed in the research. For the most part, what workers and young men described appeared to be more akin to a ‘mentor’ than a ‘role model’. In other words, someone who was more of a coach, guide or confidant, and who had a more active and negotiated relationship with the young person There was no sense from the interviews that the notion of an influential ‘role model’ who was beyond the young men’s immediate lives was helpful. Indeed, it seemed that the idea of celebrity role models, who might have a positive influence, was largely irrelevant to the young men in this study. Generally speaking, young men did not express a preference for male or female workers. Rather, the worker needed to be someone that a young man could trust and build a positive relationship with:


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If I had an issue and I wanted to talk to Frankie and I couldn’t, I talked to Sarah, if you’re gonna speak to somebody, you pick someone who is going to help you out INTERVIEWER: So gender doesn’t matter then? The sex of the worker? EDDIE: No, no. (Young man, white, Scotland) There were hints here (and elsewhere) that some young men feel more comfortable talking to women about ‘serious’ (emotional) issues, reflecting the stereotypical assumption that women are more ‘caring’ or ‘understanding’ or ‘motherly’. As one male worker said: “A lot of guys who come in here don’t feel comfortable in speaking to other guys.” In contrast to their communications with female workers, young men tended to have more ‘jokey’, relationships with male workers, especially within groups. On the one hand, it may be useful for male workers to be able to communicate with young men through a particular kind of talk. On the other, male workers need to navigate through these conversations, whilst bearing in mind the importance of challenging young men’s sexist or racist banter where necessary. Demonstrating (modelling?) positive ways for young men to express themselves can be a delicate balance. One notable feature of the interview data is the blurring of boundaries between the experiences and attitudes of male workers and young men. There was certainly a view among some that the worker needs to have similar experiences to the young men to engage with them effectively, but no consensus on this. In the Scottish projects, some of the male workers came from similar backgrounds to the young men they worked with, and had faced similar challenges in their lives. There was an element of what could be called ‘role modelling’ here, with some young men gravitating towards those who came from comparable disadvantaged backgrounds. This aspect was also confirmed by some male workers: LEE:

So for me, I see myself as them, and maybe someone gave me a wee opportunity and showed me a pathway and a right direction and I think, maybe I could do that for young people. . . (Male worker, white, Scotland)

There is some positive potential in these correspondences and identifications. In particular, it enables male workers to build effective relationships with the young men that they are working with. The workers are applauded for the ways in which they have dealt with adversity, ‘turned their lives around’, and negotiated a pathway from a ‘destructive’ to a ‘safe’ masculinity. There is some evidence that young men admire and look up to the achievement of these men, and want to some extent to emulate them. Although these adult men could therefore be seen in a sense as ‘role models’, their success is more in the ways that they have changed their behaviour, and in their interactions with young men; again, the relationship may be more akin to that of a mentor than a role model.

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However, it is important to consider the possible unintended consequences of celebrating male bonding and bantering. It has been suggested, for example, that this can lead to women being excluded, and/or communications with women being undervalued. Our sample of women workers and young women was not large enough to give clear responses to these questions, but it is nevertheless important that they should be explored in future research.

Key messages It is difficult to generalise about the experiences and perspectives of vulnerable young men, living in different parts of the country, with very different life experiences, and with their expectations shaped to a large extent by locality, ethnicity, class and culture. However, some key messages emerge from the study, encouraging us to move beyond simplistic understandings of young men’s needs, experiences and identities, and to take account of the diversity and complexities of their lives and aspirations. The researchers found that young men ‘at risk’ have often experienced difficult family relationships, including negative relationships with their fathers, but some also have positive relationships with their mothers and strong female influences in their lives. For some, the experience of becoming a father can provide a catalyst for making the transition to a more responsible masculine identity. It was also evident that young men’s masculine identities are strongly defined by locality. Young men ‘at risk’ tended to be embedded in local cultures of hypermasculinity, often with problematic consequences. Having said this, many aspire to a ‘safer’ and more responsible masculinity, with their aspirations again being largely shaped by local expectations. Another important finding was that support services provide a vital ‘third space’ in which young men can make the transition to safer and less risky adult masculine identities, with activities providing the gateway to practical advice, emotional support and the building of relationships. In relation to young men using support services, it was clear they valued the personal qualities and commitment of staff above their gender or other social identities. In other words, young men value respect, trust, consistency and a sense of care and commitment, in workers, and these qualities are key to developing effective helping relationships. The study also found that a sense of shared experience and social background between young men and staff can be valuable in developing effective relationships, and in ‘modelling’ transitions to a more positive masculine identity. Finally, although the term ‘male role models’ was used by some young men and staff, there was a lack of clarity about what was meant by it. In practice, it appears that workers in support services act less as role models for young men to imitate, and more as mentors or guides with whom they are able to negotiate and co-construct new identities and futures.


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Policy and practice implications This research suggests a number of possible implications for policy and practice affecting vulnerable and ‘at risk’ young men. The findings point to the importance of policy and practice taking account of the diverse and complex family relationships, local cultures and social inequalities that have shaped the lives of young men in contact with support services. At the same time, there is a need to recognise that many young men come to services because they are seeking to make the transition to a ‘safer’ adult masculine identity, and that their aspirations – for a job, family, home – are not very different from those of other young people. At a time when the funding and futures of support services are under threat, this research demonstrates the vital role that they play in offering a safe, transitional space in which young men ‘at risk’ can begin to construct better futures for themselves. Within these services, the paramount importance of helping relationships based on care, trust and consistency has been demonstrated, pointing to a need to make relationship-building central to staff training, team development and performance agendas. The research also raises important questions about the relative importance of gender and other social identities in recruiting staff to work with vulnerable young men. Gender identities and relationships inform young men’s lives in important and complex ways, and being able to identify with staff along the lines of gender, ethnicity or shared social background certainly plays a role and should not be overlooked. However, effective work with young men seems to depend above all on personal qualities and commitment, and on the ability to form relationships of mutual care and respect.

Note 1 Project website: (last accessed on 27 April 2018).

References Barker, G. (2005). Dying to be Men: Youth, Masculinity and Social Exclusion, London, Routledge. Brannen, J., Statham, J., Mooney, A. and Brockmann, M. (2007). Coming to Care: The Work and Family Lives of Workers Caring for Vulnerable Children, Bristol, The Policy Press. Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2012). ‘Thematic analysis’, in Cooper, H. (ed.) APA Handbook of Research Methods in Psychology Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, American Psychological Association, pp. 57–71. Bricheno, P. and Thornton, M. (2007). ‘Role model, hero or champion? Children’s views concerning role models’, Educational Research, 49: 4, pp. 383–396. Bryman, A. (2012). Social Research Methods 4th Edition, New York, Oxford University Press. Burkhard, T. (2008). Troops to Teachers, London, Centre for Policy Studies.

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Cameron, C., Moss, P, and Owen, C. (1999). Men In The Nursery: Gender and Caring Work, London, Paul Chapman. Cobbett, M. and Younger, M. (2012). ‘Boys’ educational ‘underachievement’ in the Caribbean: Interpreting the ‘problem’’, Gender and Education, 24: 6, pp. 611–625. Coffey, A. and Atkinson, P. (1996). Making Sense of Qualitative Data: Complementary Strategies, Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage. Connell, R. W. (1995). Masculinities, Cambridge, Polity. Dennis, N. and Erdos, G. (1992). Families without Fatherhood, London, IEA Health and Welfare Unit. Denscombe, M. (2008). The Good Research Guide, Basingstoke, Open University Press. Denzin, N. and Lincoln, Y. (eds.) (2005). The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research, Third Edition, London, Sage. Dermott, E. (2012). ‘“Troops to Teachers”: Solving the problem of working-class masculinity in the classroom?’ Critical Social Policy, 32: 2, pp. 223–241. Edström, J., Hassink, A., Shahrokh, T. and Stern, E. (2015). Engendering Men: A Collaborative Review of Evidence on Men and Boys in Social Change and Gender Equality, Institute of Development Studies, Promundo-US and Sonke Gender Justice. Featherstone, B. (2009). Contemporary Fathering: Theory, Policy and Practice, Bristol, The Policy Press. Featherstone, B., Rivett, M. and Scourfield, J. (2007). Working with Men in Health and Social Care, London, Sage. Frosh, S., Phoenix, A. and Pattman, R. (2002). Young Masculinities, Basingstoke, Palgrave. Greig, C.J. (2012). ‘Boys Underachievement in schools, in historical perspective, exploring masculinity and schooling in the post-war era 1945-1960 in Ontario’, in Greig, C.J. and Martino, W.J. (eds.) Canadian Men and Masculinities –Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, Toronto, ON, Canadian Scholars’ Press INC, pp. 99–115. Harnett, P. and Lee, J. (2003). ‘Where have all the men gone? Have primary schools really been feminised?’ Journal of Educational Administration and History, 35: 2, pp. 77–86. Hicks, S. (2008). ‘Gender role models. . ..who needs ‘em’?’ Qualitative Social Work, 7: 1, pp. 43–59. Lammy, D. (2011). Out of the Ashes: Britain After the Riots, London, Guardian Books. Mahadevan, J. (2011). ‘Riots Blamed on Absent Fathers and Poor School Discipline’. Children & Young People Now 15.08.11. Available at: 1049472/riots-blamed-absent-fathers-poor-school-discipline [accessed 15th July 2015]. Martin, A. and Marsh, H. (2005). ‘Motivating boys and motivating girls: Does teacher gender really make a difference?’ Australian Journal of Education, 9: 3, pp. 320–334. Martino, W.J. (2008). ‘Male teachers as role models: Addressing issues of masculinity, pedagogy and the re-masculinization of schooling’, Curriculum Inquiry, 38: 2, pp. 189–223. McDowell, L. (2001). ‘Working with young men’, Geographical Review, 91: 1/2, pp. 201. McDowell, L. (2003). Redundant Masculinities: Employment Change and White Working-Class Youth, Oxford, Blackwell Publishing. McNeill, F. (2006). ‘Community supervision: Context and relationships matter’, in Goldson, B. and Muncie, J. (eds.) Youth Crime and Justice, London, Sage, pp. 125–138. Murray, C. (1990). The Emerging British Underclass, London, IEA. O’Brien, M. (2005). Shared Caring: Bringing Fathers into the Frame, Norwich, East Anglia. O’Donnell, M. and Sharpe, S. (2000). Uncertain Masculinities: Youth, Ethnicity and Class in Contemporary Britain, London, Routledge. Osella, C. and Osella, F. (2006). Men and Masculinities in South India, London, Anthem Press. Ouzgane, L. and Morrell, R. (2005). African Masculinities, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.


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Reach (2007). An Independent Report to Government on Raising the Aspirations and Attainment of Black Boys and Young Black Men, London, The Stationery Office. Robb, M. (2004). ‘Exploring fatherhood: Masculinity and intersubjectivity in the research process’, Journal of Social Work Practice, 18: 3, pp. 395–406. Robb, M. (2007). ‘Gender’, in Kehily, M.J. (ed.) Youth: Perspectives, Identities and Practices, London, Sage. Robb, M. (2010). ‘Men wanted? Gender and the children’s workforce’, in Robb, M. and Thomson, R. (eds.) Critical Practice with Children and Young People, Bristol, Policy Press, pp. 185–199. Roberts, S. (ed.) (2014). Debating Modern Masculinities, Change, Continuity Crisis? Basingstoke, Palgrave MacMillan. Ruspini, E., Hearn, J., Pease, B., Pringle, K. (2011). Men and Masculinities Around the World: Transforming Men’s Practices, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan. Ruxton, S. (2009). Man Made: Men, Masculinities and Equality in Public Policy, London, Coalition on Men and Boys, linities-and-equality-public-policy [accessed on 15th July 2015]. Seidler, V. (2006). Young Men and Masculinities: Global Cultures and Intimate Lives, London, Zed Books. Skelton, C. (2003). ‘Male primary teachers and perceptions of Masculinity’, Educational Review, 55: 2, pp. 195–209. Syal, R. (2013). ‘British Male Identity Crisis “Spurring Machismo and Heartlessness”’. The Guardian [Online]. 14. 05.13. Available at: may/14/male-identity-crisis-machismo-abbott [accessed on 15th July 2015]. Ward, M.R.M. (2014). ‘“I’m a geek I am”: Academic achievement and the performance of a studious working-class masculinity’, Gender and Education, 26: 7, pp. 709–725. Ward, M.R.M. (2015). From Labouring to Learning: Working-Class Masculinities, Education and De-Industrialization, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan. Willis, P. (1977). Learning to Labour: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs, Aldershot, Saxon House.


Introduction The Stepping Stones programme is a training package on gender, HIV, communication and relationship skills (Welbourn 1995). It was developed first in Uganda, in 1994, by a social anthropologist and international specialist on gender and participatory approaches to development, who had recently been diagnosed with HIV. She worked with a close team of highly experienced trainers. Three of these original Ugandan trainers in 1994 were theatre for development specialists, recently graduated from the Makerere University Department of Music, Dance and Drama. Their mentor, the late scholar, playwright and actor, Professor Rose Mbowa, who was head of that department, was the fourth and lead trainer for the programme. The Stepping Stones programme has since spread, largely by word of mouth, around the world. It has been used in communities in over 100 countries, from Fiji to Ecuador and from South Africa to Siberia. It has been adapted and translated into at least thirty languages and probably quite a few more. It is recognised to reduce intimate partner violence (or IPV) through a randomised control trial (RCT) conducted in South Africa by the South African Medical Research Council (MRC)and is listed on the What Works for Women website as having a Gray II evidence level for effectiveness, both in addressing violence against women and transforming gender norms (Jewkes et al. 2008; What Works for Women not dated). Many other informal evaluations in a wide range of geographical and cultural settings have shown that women have themselves reported similar IPV reduction in response to open-ended questions, that is, asking them “what has changed for you?”, in countries including The Gambia, India (where it has been reported by ActionAid1 to end child marriage) and Malawi (Paine et al. 2002; Bradley et al. 2011; Salamander Trust 2013).


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The programme was designed from the outset to maximise participation of male and female, older and younger community members through offering them the option of joining one of four different peer groups, based on age and gender and by conducting the programme sessions simultaneously with all four groups, each with a facilitator of their own gender and similar age. The overall original programme consists of eighteen sessions, over about nine weeks. Every few sessions bring all four peer groups together to share and compare what they have been discussing and learning, in order to build bridges of understanding, empathy and compassionate support between the four peer groups. All the work is based on discussions, role-plays, games and drawing, on the principle that no literacy is needed. This ensures that anyone can take part, irrespective of their formal educational level. The idea of working with four peer groups simultaneously is one of the most fundamental ‘foundation stones’ of the Stepping Stones programme. Whilst the MRC programme in South Africa was unable to work with more than the two younger age groups, owing to the extreme costs of running an RCT, it is testament to the strength of the programme that significant change in IPV still resulted, including considerable improvement in the mental health of the participants. The original developers maintain that if all four peer groups had been included, one might have seen even greater improvements in violence reduction – and possibly even in HIV prevalence (Welbourn 2013). Despite all the reported successes of the Stepping Stones programme to date, it has been over twenty years since the programme was first created. A lot has changed in the world of HIV since then. Furthermore, much more has also been learnt about how best people learn. A number of the exercises in the original Stepping Stones manual tended to be problem focused. Such an approach can limit the speed and quality of behaviour change in communities. Much recent psycho-social research demonstrates instead the power of vision-focused approaches to change. This includes appreciative inquiry research and action in schools in Europe and with youth gangs in South Africa (McAdam and Lang 2009; McAdam and Mirza 2009). Research on interpersonal neurobiology from the USA (Siegel and Payne Bryson 2012); from compassion-focused therapy research in many countries (Neff 2011; Gilbert and Choden 2013); and many years of research and long-term interventions in Massachusetts prisons have also enriched our understanding of these complex issues (Gilligan and Lee 2005). We developed new solution-focused exercises, working across genders and generations, to build heightened self-awareness and affirmative, future-oriented collaborative processes. These latter approaches may also foster faster change in attitudes as well as behaviour. The World Bank LOGICA Progamme approached the current authors to see if we thought that Stepping Stones could be adapted to support them to work with young men in the Karamoja area of North Eastern Uganda (Logica and Feinstein International Center 2014). This community has been beset by small arms proliferation exacerbating the effects of traditional cattle-raiding practices. We welcomed the opportunity to adapt the

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original programme, harnessing these new advances in approaches to attitudes and behaviour change. We explained however that to work with male youth, we also had to work with older men, older women and younger women also, as part of a holistic systems-thinking approach (Green 2015). Thus began our adaptation of Stepping Stones to promote peace and prosperity in Karamoja described here (Oron, Sebuwufu and Welbourn 2014).

Methodology In our adaptation we worked closely with colleagues at the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University, who have a long track record of academic research in the community, on which we could freely draw. The Karamojong pastoralist community in North Eastern Uganda, along with many other similar communities across Northern Uganda, South Sudan, Northern Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, have been challenged by long-term small arms proliferation (Akabwai with Ateyo 2007), much exacerbated by decades of extractive post-colonial cold war strategies across the region (Wikipedia not dated). This small arms proliferation has resulted in immense instabilities, and much attendant violence, including sexual violence (Stites and Akabwai 2009). This has been worsened through the replacement of traditional spears for stock theft, associated with occasional injuries and deaths, with mass injuries and killings through machine gun fire. With elders’ traditional authority structures, disciplinary sanctions and powers often undermined and eroded by colonial administrations and internationally supported post-colonial dictatorships (Beyene 2009), young men’s adventures in raiding have escalated into undisciplined massacres associated with increasing levels of sexual violence (Kaufman, Robles, Barker et al. 2012). Space does not permit further discussion of this here, but the colonial and post-colonial history of the region, exacerbated by on-going international trade in small arms by Western businesses, also sanctioned by many western powers, has much to contribute to the problems of this region (Small Arms Survey not dated). In our work, we have therefore purposefully sought to support participants to work together to view the bigger picture, to understand the issues and challenges facing each separate section of their community, to step out of their own box and to view the world differently through stepping into one another’s sandals and perspectives. We have always worked from the principle that we all carry the power of good within us, from cradle to grave and that, although we might lose sight of it at times, owing to ways in which we have been treated by others and our defensive responses to these, we can always find that good within us with the care and support of those around us. So in this programme, instead of targeting, shaming, blaming and alienating the young men who have been most involved as perpetrators of violence, we have sought instead to engage with all community members to take a step back, to view the sociocultural, economic and historical context of their lives from a much wider holistic perspective, in order to support everyone to understand that they are all


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affected by the larger politics and economics at play in this local manifestation of our global context. Through linking local to global and back again (or ‘glocal analysis’ as we can call it), we have supported all community members to understand the consequences of gendered and intergenerational imbalances in their community in the wider social, economic, political and historical context and to recognise the challenges facing elder people as well as younger ones, in the context of human rights and shared visions for peace and prosperity. Through focusing attention on each gender and age in turn throughout the sessions, and through harnessing the innovative psycho-social approaches to how we can change the way we feel and think, we seek to create a growing platform of understanding, empathy and consensus around shared dreams and desires across the community, upon which they can then build shared strategies together for the benefit of the whole community. For example, young men here feel tremendous pressure to accumulate assets, in order to fulfil their image of what it means to be an ‘ideal man’: yet they find the legitimate means through which to do so largely inaccessible and insufficient. Thus they resort to cattle raiding, using machine guns to defend themselves and often perpetrate sexual violence as well, which enhances their sense of prowess. The programme supports participants in understanding that this makes sense to such young men in the context of existing limited options for them to achieve manhood. Yet the programme also supports participants in understanding that such concepts of manhood and womanhood are social constructs, built out of historical sociocultural contexts – and that there are thus also other ways of thinking and being in the world which are less damaging to ourselves and others. This is what Stepping Stones always sought to do from the outset. However, we consider now that some of the newer exercises we have introduced into this adaptation are more effective at supporting this consensus-building, future-oriented process than some original exercises may have been. The new adaptation is still presented as a journey, like the original; and still consists of different themes or stages: namely a) Group Cooperation (including two new sessions on human rights instead of sessions on HIV and condoms); b) Why We Behave in the Ways We Do and c) Ways in Which We Can Change – if we want to.

The mindsight triangle To help explain more how recent research has shaped the adapted programme, we describe next one recent framework developed by Daniel Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine, to describe mental health and the triangle of well-being (Siegel 2010). We will then describe how our programme reflects this framework. The triangle of well-being (Figure 6.1) consists of three equal prime points, the brain (which is connected through our spinal column to the workings

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INTEGRATION of these three

Brain (incl. Body) FIGURE 6.1


The triangle of mental health well-being

Source: compiled by authors

and energy of all the essential organs of our body, including our heart, lungs, liver and kidneys); the mind process that regulates our information flow in us; and relationships – which is how our information and energy is shared between us and other individuals or more people. Our health is defined by this triangle of well-being. If these three parts of this triangle are well balanced and integrated, then we are said to be in good mental health. All these three need to be of equal balance and need to work together well for us to be in good health. In relation to Stepping Stones, what the original developers already sought to do in the programme was to: a) support participants in learning about our own minds and how we feel and think – and distinguishing between these b) support participants in learning about our own bodies and how we can influence how we act through being aware of our own body language and the power of communication through our body language c) support participants in being aware of how we relate to everyone around us – our peer group members, our partners, other peer groups, our children, our elders, the wider community we live in – so that we can appreciate that each of us is one distinct individual part of many different overlapping circles of relationships. So we can see already that the three components of Siegel’s triangle are already well embedded in the original Stepping Stones programme. Siegel then describes nine components that make up all of us and which need to be integrated in this triangle framework for us to achieve good health and well-being. These nine components are listed here. All nine of them really relate to all the parts of the triangle just described but for ease of explanation we have grouped them in threes around the triangle.


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Mind Firstly, we consider our minds. The three components that Siegel identifies which are perhaps most connected to our minds (though they are all inter-related remember) are: insight; understanding why we behave as we do; and emotional balance, shown in Table 6.1 below. For each of these three components, there are some new as well as older exercises throughout the programme which support these qualities to develop in the participants. Some examples of relevant exercises appear in the right-hand column here. To explain further, we present two examples of exercises which relate to understanding our minds.

TABLE 6.1 Mindsight and related exercises

Component MIND Insight – mapping where you are now, where you have been in the past, where you’re going in the future (“mental time travel”)

Programme Structure & Exercise

Spider’s web (Gender identities through) past images and current realities Peer group composition (based on age and gender)

Understanding why we behave as we do – Ability to extinguish fear from learned events by retelling past stories and learning a different narrative

Ability spotting – as storyteller Traditions Alcohol (Gender identities through) past images and current realities Money – economic stresses Politics of the small arms industry Peer group composition (based on age and gender)

Emotional balance – not chaotic or depressed

Assertiveness training Breathing and meditation exercises Termite mounds

BODY Regulating your body – coordinating your heart rate, intestines, breathing Ability to pause before you act – response flexibility

Breathing and meditation exercises Body language exercises Assertiveness training Termite mounds Peer group support to (re)act differently (based on age and gender) (Continued )

TABLE 6.1 (Cont).


Programme Structure & Exercise

Intuition – bringing the wisdom of the body up into our awareness

Dreaming and backlighting Ability spotting – as observer Support from peers

RELATIONSHIPS Attunement – to feel with another person

Fixed positions Circular questioning – how do you think s/he feels? Goat scenario Assertiveness training Role-plays as members of other peer groups Thinking about other peer groups beyond our own Meeting with other peer groups to share and compare Random acts of kindness Sharing information from the programme with others

Empathy – ability to make maps in your mind of someone else’s subjective experience

Fixed positions Circular questioning – how do you think s/he feels? Goat scenario Assertiveness training Role-plays as members of other peer groups Meeting with other peer groups to share and compare

Morality – the greater good – a we-map

Dreaming and backlighting Ability spotting Goat scenario I-statements to We-statements (‘We-dentity’) Meeting with other peer groups to share and compare Full Community Meeting – to share programme with all community

Source: compiled by authors


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Spider’s web Firstly, we have repeated throughout the programme the metaphor of a spider’s web, which is a well-known and extraordinary natural creation that is covered with meeting points or nodes of interconnectedness. Wherever we pause on a web, we can sit and reflect outwards, inwards, forwards and backwards. We can reflect on who we are: where we are now, where we have come from and where we seek to go in the future. We are able to recognise our interconnectedness with all around us in our community and identify ourselves as positive agents of change, taking an active and integrated part in the health and well-being of our community, with rights, roles and responsibilities. This recognition enables us to identify our place in the world and our role both as individuals and as a part of the collective whole, to decide where we want to go next.

Ability-spotting Another key exercise in developing our awareness of our minds is the abilityspotting exercise (McAdam and Mirza 2009). This exercise develops our abilityspotting powers, to awaken participants’ awareness of the strengths and skills they have within them, built from their own experiences and their consequent abilities to overcome past challenges and fears. Participants work in small groups, so that each shares with the others in turn a story of something that he or she felt had challenged them in the past, which they felt they had managed to overcome, no matter how small. The participant describes briefly what the challenge was and how he or she managed to overcome it. The other participants listening to this story, praise her or him as the story is retold, for what is shown through the story, such as courage, imagination, persistence, kindness, thoughtfulness, generosity or whatever quality comes to the listeners’ minds. As the others identify these qualities, they draw or write them on pieces of paper, which they then stick all over the storyteller. At the end of the story, the storyteller then gathers all the papers together and threads them onto a piece of thread or ribbon which he or she then ties, as a necklace, around his or her neck. Then it is the turn of the next participant in the group to tell her or his own story and the other participants then respond in similar fashion until all members of the group, having related their own story, have their own necklace of their own strengths, abilities and qualities hanging around their neck. This process has immense power. The very act of telling a story of something difficult in one’s past – often for the first time – and having it met with support, encouragement and praise – can often be a first step to readjusting and overcoming past memories of fear or loss into foundation stones of strength and resilience. Past memories of fear or loss are like broken pieces of glass inside us. Retelling these fragmented stories and being supported in piecing them together into a whole with a new positive narrative, which appreciates the strength and resilience of the storyteller, is like repairing a broken mirror, in

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which we can now view ourselves with pleasure and pride rather than pain and sadness or anger. How we relate to and have responded to our memories of past events can have a significant effect on how we respond in future to potentially similar events (Siegel and Payne Bryson 2012). So this exercise, especially one where each participant in turn acts both as the storyteller and as the appreciator, empowers each participant in turn both to learn new skills in retelling past moment of sadness or challenges and hearing a different narrative about them; and in identifying and articulating one’s appreciation for others’ qualities. This exercise supports participants to see their own histories in a different, more positive light. This deceptively simple exercise is one which has proven immensely powerful in our programme.

Brain/body The next three components identified by Dr Siegel relate more to our brains, which are connected to all our essential organs in our bodies. These are shown in Table 6.1 with more related exercises. They are: regulating our bodies; learning and using an ability to pause before we act; and intuition – bringing the wisdom of the body up into our awareness. Here we describe two more relevant exercises: termite mounds and dreaming and backlighting.

Termite mounds With termite mounds, we use the image of a termite mound, a common sight in this landscape, to enquire what lies beneath an individual’s anger and to give us the ability to pause before we act. This exercise helps us understand that beneath all anger there are often unseen layers of fear, hurt and need (Macbeth et al. 2011). Participants are invited then to unpack these feelings, in order to understand each in turn. Such analysis supports both individuals and those around them to defuse the heat which is generated deep in the earth at the base of the termite mound. Anger is seen instead as a consequence of these unmet issues. Powered with these insights, participants are able to understand that our actions can be changed if we grow to become more aware of, and thus change, our feelings and thoughts. This realisation can be enormous and can really help us all both to support ourselves and to begin to support someone else when they are losing their temper – in order to question and calm those who start to flare up. This helps those feeling the anger to press the ‘pause’ button on their anger, as they feel supported to step out of the heat of the moment and are asked what is going on beneath the surface. Thus participants are trained to facilitate the dissipation of their own and each other’s anger before it erupts into violence.


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Dreaming our futures and backlighting Another lesson from McAdam has been an exercise on dreaming our futures and backlighting (McAdam and Mirza 2009). This helps us develop our ability to connect with the deep intuition of our profound creativity and good which is held in all our bodies. In this, participants are invited to work in pairs or threes. Each in turn is invited by the others to dream of something successful they are doing in five years’ time, which they feel proud of then. Through intensive questioning from their peers, using who, what, how, where, when questions, the participant is invited to fill in the story, working backwards through time to the present, in order to dream how he or she has achieved this personal dream. Participants are invited to understand that dreaming and imagining are creative processes that come from beyond our regular ‘thinking’ minds. We are not talking about thinking and planning our futures, but rather making use of the right side of our brains, letting our deeper wisdom and values emerge as a dream, a hope or an imagined future. Participants are invited to let this dreaming happen, through initial relaxation and breathing exercises, which can support us all to learn how to clear our minds, to slow or even stop thinking, and just listen to our deeper selves.

Relationships Siegel’s last three components of mental health well-being (Table 6.1) are: attunement– to feel with another person; empathy– the ability to make maps in our mind of someone else’s experience; and morality– for the greater good of society – a ‘we’ map. Here again we share two examples. The goat scenario We use local images a lot in our work, connecting to the natural world around us. We also use positive and creative language to show how nurture, growth and sharing is preferable to fighting, violence and exploitation. One popular example, again apparently simple and simplistic – yet again with deeper layered meanings – is the goat scenario where two participants are roped together and are asked to role-play arguing and fighting goats. Initially they are asked to pull in opposite directions, each striving to reach his – or her – own scant patch of grass on which to graze. Then they, and the other participants, are invited to suggest alternative ways in which they might interact and a suggestion soon emerges that they cooperate peacefully to graze together each patch of grass in turn. This playful scenario, producing much laughter, is then discussed and interrogated. Participants are asked if and how it connects to real life experiences and what reflections they might have on the two different narratives. Using gentle comic role-play to highlight a commonly experienced situation – fighting over scarce resources – enables participants to see beyond the immediate challenge and to support one another to find a greater, mutually positive result.

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From ‘I’-statements to ‘We’-statements We have also continued the use of ‘I’-statements a lot throughout to support participants to understand how to distinguish between our feelings and our thoughts and to communicate verbally in non-judgmental, neutral language. Later in the programme, as in the original manual, we then expand this to develop ‘we’-statement special requests, so that each peer group can communicate their dreams and desires effectively to the other peer groups in the community. Since each peer group is still always given equal time, privacy and respect throughout the workshop, participants grow to realise that this is a winwin situation for them all and that the sharing of power amongst everyone, by moving from a sense of ‘I’-dentity to ‘we’-dentity, is a far greater sum than all the parts.

Summary of methodology Through constant and repeated use of all these exercises and many more, we use acting, listening to each other, watching, talking and drawing, to enable participants to make use of all their mind, brain/body and relationship-building faculties and skills together, to learn new ways of feeling, thinking, doing, being in and connecting to the world. We also endeavour to make sure that the exercises use a range of learning styles, including role-play, discussions and diagrams, and finish with a positive feeling, thought and action, since we have again learnt from research that it is what we have done most recently that imprints its memory on us (Redelmeier and Kahneman 1996; Coffield et al. 2004; Gawande 2014). This is why we work as much as possible with positive ideas, dreams, visions and actions, in order to train our minds, brains and bodies to ‘rehearse for reality’ how we want to be and what we want to do – and connect and relate with others around us – in the future together.

Results We conducted the programme in ten parishes in Karamoja over nine months in 2013. The whole process was evaluated by Tufts University, who conducted baseline qualitative interviews with 195 people of different genders and ages; and 1,556 quantitative interviews with young men in seven intervention and three control sites. The quantitative survey had a stepped wedge design in four different stages. The whole survey process is explained in the final report (Stites et al. 2014). The following results were identified.

Security Overall, respondents (in all locations) felt more secure over the course of the study. More respondents felt safe at night (48 percent in baseline, up to 68 percent in end


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line) and experienced a security-related increase in mobility, which in turn led to better access to natural resources and markets.

Intimate partner relations The Tufts evaluation report states: Respondents of both genders reported a decrease in domestic violence as well as improved relations at the household level. They attributed this change directly to the Stepping Stones program. The quantitative results support this finding: 43 percent of respondents at the baseline felt it was acceptable to hit a woman, compared to 23 percent at the end line in intervention locations. (Stites E, Akabwai D, Marshak A, et al. 2014)

Behaviour management The Tufts report states: Men and women credited the Stepping Stones intervention with better behaviour management. These improvements applied to both men and women, and, importantly, included after the consumption of alcohol, and were cited as contributing to the reduction of disputes at both the household and community levels. (Stites E, Akabwai D, Marshak A, et al. 2014)

‘Female’ task-sharing The Tufts report also states: “The qualitative data also show some cases of increased sharing of domestic chores following the Stepping Stones intervention, with men actively participating in activities normally falling exclusively within the female domain, including childcare and food preparation.”

Traditional authority Greater respect for the authority of the elders was also reported in the qualitative findings.

Attendance levels Participants responded extremely positively to these new approaches to learning, which were ‘wildly popular’ (Stites et al. 2014). There were high levels of attendance throughout the workshop sessions at all the sites, from males and females, old and young alike. And there was overwhelming demand for extension

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and expansion of the programme. The fact that all four peer groups of participants (older men, older women, younger men, younger women) have separately been doing the same exercises throughout the sessions, linking them to their own lived experiences along the way, equips all the participants with a new shared understanding of how they themselves feel, think, act, exist and relate to others in the world – and also how others around them do. This feels exciting and inspiring for all concerned and creates new bonds of shared understanding, empathy, compassion and hope as they move forward together with ideas for future individual and shared action.

Wider political critical literacy Participants also benefitted greatly from understanding the political dimensions of increasing inequalities in society, which increase shame and produce violent actions. This understanding enabled them to understand that past negative thoughts, feelings or actions, which we have all had and of which we might have felt ashamed or for which we might have blamed others, have a cause, an explanation behind them, which allows us to judge ourselves – and others – less harshly (Neff 2011). This enables us, in turn, to move forward to a different way of being, acting and relating to others in the world. Through shifting our mindsight, we are enabled the understanding that we have a choice in how we react to circumstances (Gilbert and Choden 2013). This then creates in us an opportunity to feel, think, act and relate to others differently in future, if we want to. This is what the participants in Karamoja were also experiencing through this process.

Discussion Change is complex, time consuming and needs long-term support The assumption that “knowledge leads to attitude change leads to behaviour change” is a simple short-term linear process, is one that, though still widespread in the literature, is deeply flawed (Stepping Stones Feedback 2012). We need only reflect on the decades it has taken to legislate for seat belts in vehicles and smoking-free public places in Europe to understand the complexity of behaviour change, even for seemingly obvious benefits (ROSPA 2014; ASH 2015). Whilst Western powers continue to enable the global small arms industry to flourish, to imagine that things are somehow different in settings with far more limited material resources or opportunities is unwise and short-sighted at least. The Tufts’ evaluation qualitative data showed clearly that acts of intimate partner violence reduced and that positive attitudes towards intimate partner violence reduced (Stites et al. 2014). These findings are a powerful testimony to people’s ability to change – yet this is not an overnight transformation. Such changes take time and effort to nurture and support. Ongoing funding and investment is needed to sustain such changes, wherever they occur in the world.


Baron Oron and Alice Welbourn

Older and younger women must always be involved, as equals on their own terms, in such programmes. This is what the Stepping Stones programme set out to do from the first workshop in 1994 and this adaptation continues to maintain the importance of this holistic, integrated approach to attitudes and behaviour change. Throughout this adaptation of Stepping Stones, we repeatedly use the image of a spider’s web to describe this.

Quantitative and qualitative data inconsistencies We also learnt that there was a frustrating disconnect between the extremely positive qualitative findings of the survey and the more equivocal quantitative findings. This is not unique to this behaviour change programme (Shaw 2003; Mendlinger and Cwikel 2008). We think that this was, in part, due to the particular social and economic pressures on the lonetia, the young men who, although undoubtedly highly resourceful, have had least formal education and who have least to lose in turning to a life of repeated stock theft in forging an identity through this income source (Gilligan 2001; Stites et al. 2014). It appears clear that as the young men who identify as lonetia repeat their stock theft and other violent behaviour, their sense of choice to behave otherwise is reduced and they become more alienated from mainstream society.

Conclusion and next steps This recent action research process in Karamoja has potential for use in diverse contexts, to overcome and move beyond gender-based violence, and to develop greater community-wide cohesion, both here and across the region. First, we strongly recommend that all young men (and of course women) are fully supported to complete, at least, their primary education, in order to improve their future chances of finding legal means of income and identity as fully engaged community members, rather than through resorting to stock theft and sexual violence for their economic and social status. Second, we also strongly recommend that, once they have finished the Stepping Stones programme, younger participants especially, both male and female, are offered vocational training as a means of livelihood development. In the original community where Stepping Stones was conducted in 1994, the subsequent livelihoods training and seed grants offered by Redd Barna cemented the changes afforded by the Stepping Stones programme. Twelve years later, that community had become a vibrant hotspot of young committed dynamic and prosperous community members, all of whom attributed their health and well-being to Stepping Stones (Strategies for Hope 2006; HEARD, Project Empower and S African MRC 2013). Finally, we call for more research into how interpersonal neuro-biology can continue to shape our work to weave together fractured social fabrics in a whole-community holistic way, binding together material, psycho-social,

Interpersonal neurobiology and the prevention of gender-based violence


physical, sexual – and spiritual – well-being. We recommend further research on these new neuroscientific approaches, to support future community programmes to overcome mounting negative consequences of sociopolitical inequalities worldwide. We have learnt a lot already – and we still have much to learn.

Acknowledgements The authors thank Emilie Rees-Smith and Emily Nohner of the World Bank LOGICA Project; Elizabeth Stites, Darlington Akabwai and Simon Richards of Tufts University; Germine Sebuwufu; the training programme facilitators and all the participants who took part in the programme and contributed to our learning so richly.


Action on Smoking and Health Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus intimate partner violence Learning on Gender and Conflict in Africa Medical Research Council randomised control trial Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents United States of America

Note 1 Abraham C. ActionAid India. Personal communication. 2007.

References Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). 2015. Key Dates in the history of anti-tobacco campaigning. [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Akabwai, D. with P. Ateyo. 2007. The Scramble for cattle, power and guns in Karamoja. New York: Feinstein International Center. +Cattle1.pdf [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Beyene, F. 2009. ‘Property rights conflict, customary institutions and the state: The case of agro-pastoralists in Mieso district, Eastern Ethiopia’. The Journal of Modern African Studies. 47(02): 213. [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Bradley, J.E., P., Bhattacharjee, B. Ramesh, M. Girish, and A. Das. 2011. ‘Evaluation of stepping stones as a tool for changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviours associated with gender, relationships and HIV risk in Karnataka, India’. BMC Public Health. 11(1): 496. [Accessed 16 May 2018].


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Coffield, F., D. Moseley, E. Hall, and K. Ecclestone. 2004. Learning styles and pedagogy in post16 learning. A systematic and critical review. London: Learning and Skills Research Centre. [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Gawande, A. 2014. Being mortal. New York: Metropolitan Books. Gilbert, Pand Choden. 2013. Mindful compassion. London: Robinson. Gilligan, J. 2001. Preventing violence. London: Thames & Hudson. Gilligan, J. and B. Lee. 2005. ‘The resolve to stop the violence project: transforming an inhouse culture of violence through a Jail-Based Programme’. Journal of Public Health. 27(2): 149–155. [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Green, D. 2015. Fit for the Future? Systems thinking and the role of International NGOs – Draft paper for your comments. OXFAM blog. [Accessed 16 May 2018]. HEARD, University of Kwazulu Natal, Project Empower and MRC South Africa. 2013. Stepping stones and creating futures: Outcomes of a behavioural and structural pilot intervention to build gender equality and economic power among young people in urban informal settings in South Africa. uploads/2013/04/Creating_Futures_Stepping_Stones_12_Month_Outcomes.pdf [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Jewkes, R., M. Nduna, J. Levin, N. Jama, K. Dunkle, and A. Puren. et al. 2008. ‘Impact of stepping stones on incidence of HIV and HSV-2 and sexual behaviour in Rural South Africa: Cluster randomised controlled trial’. British Medical Journal. 337 (Aug 07 1): a506a506. [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Kaufman, M., O. Robles, G. Barker et al. 2012. Sexual Violence in Conflict and Post-Conflict: Engaging Men and boys. Men-Engage, UNFPA, Sonke Gender Justice, Promundo. http:// [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Learning on Gender and Conflict in Africa(Logica) and Feinstein International Center. 2014. Engaging Male Youth in Karamoja, Uganda: An examination of the factors driving the perpetration of violence and crime by young men in Karamoja and the applicability of a communications and relationships program to address related behaviorhttp://documents. iesNo30UGA.pdf [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Macbeth, F., N. Fine, J. Broadwood, C. Haslam and N. Pitcher. 2011. Playing with fire. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. McAdam, E. and P. Lang. 2009. Appreciative work in schools. Chichester England: Kingsham Press. McAdam, E. and K. Mirza. 2009. ‘Drugs, hopes and dreams: Appreciative inquiry with marginalized young people using drugs and alcohol’. Journal of Family Therapy. 31(2): 175– 193. [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Mendlinger, S. and J.Cwikel. 2008. ‘Spiraling between qualitative and quantitative data on women’s health behaviors: A double Helix Modelfor mixed methods’. Qualitative Health Research. 18(2): 280–293. 1049732307312392 [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Neff, K. 2011. Self-compassion. New York: William Morrow. Oron, B., G. Sebuwufu and A. Welbourn. 2014. Stepping stones for peace and prosperity. Strategies for Hope Trust and Salamander Trust. stepping-stones-peace-prosperity/ [Accessed 16 May 2018].

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Paine, K., G. Hart, M. Jawo, S. Ceesay, M. Jallow and L. Morison et al. 2002. ‘“Before we were sleeping, now we are awake”: Preliminary evaluation of the Stepping Stones sexual health programme in The Gambia’. African Journal of AIDS Research. 1(1): 39–50. https:// [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Redelmeier, D. and D. Kahneman. 1996. ‘Patients’ memories of painful medical treatments: Real-time and retrospective evaluations of two minimally invasive procedures’. Pain. 66 (1): 3–8. [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA). 2014. Seat belts history: How seat belts became law. [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Salamander Trust. 2012. Stepping stones feedback’s march newsletter about monitoring and evaluation. f&id=f624da86a1 [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Salamander Trust. 2013. Seeking safety: Stepping stones in Malawi. http://steppingstones [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Shaw, I. 2003. ‘Qualitative research and outcomes in health, social work and education’. Qualitative Research. 3(1): 57–77. 146879410300300103 [Accessed 16 May 2018] Siegel, D. 2010. Daniel Siegel on the triangle of well-being. Greater Good Science Center. [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Siegel, D. and T. Payne Bryson. 2012. The whole-brain child. New York: Bantam. Small Arms Survey. Not dated. Industrial production. weapons-and-markets/producers/industrial-production.html [Accessed 21 May 2018]. Stites, E. and D. Akabwai. 2009. Changing roles, shifting risks: Livelihood impacts of disarmament in Karamoja, Uganda. Feinstein Center, Tufts University. ging-roles-shifting-risks-2009.pdf [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Stites, E., D. Akabwai, A. Marshak, E. Nohner, and S. Richards. 2014. Engaging male youth in Karamoja, Uganda. Somerville: Feinstein International Center, Tufts University. http:// [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Strategies for Hope. 2006. Stepping stones revisited: Stories from the village of Buwenda, Uganda. [Accessed 16 December 2016]. Welbourn, A. 1995. Stepping Stones training programme on HIV, communication and relationship skills. Oxford: Strategies for Hope. [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Welbourn, A. 2013. ‘From local to global and back again – Learning from stepping stones’. In Wallace, T., F.Porter and M.Ralph-Bowman (eds), Aid, NGOs and the realities of women’s lives, pp. 175–188, Rugby, Warwickshire: Practical Action Publishing. What works for women website. Not dated. utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=%22Stepping+Stones%22 [Accessed 16 May 2018]. Wikipedia. Not dated. List of conflicts related to the cold war. wiki/List_of_conflicts_related_to_the_Cold_War [Accessed 16 May 2018].


Background Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) affects people in all communities, no matter what their class, race, religion or location (Population Council 2008). Although data on sexual violence is lacking in most countries, recent regional estimates for Africa show that approximately 46% of women (fifteen years and older) have experienced either partner or non-partner physical or sexual violence at some time in their life (WHO, LSHTM, MRC 2013). Due to these statistics, work on gender, gender equity and equality and SGBV has dramatically increased over the past few years. There has been an increasing call to engage men and boys in understanding gender equality as an important part of addressing issues around violence (Barker, Contreras and Heilman et al. 2011). Evidence shows that men who experience violence or witnessed domestic violence as children are more likely to accept violence as a means of resolving conflict both in their relationships and lives (Contreras, Heilman and Barker et al. 2012). Tearfund believes that the church should always be a place where social norms and attitudes can be challenged if they are causing harm. It is crucial for the church to openly denounce all kinds of violence, and act as catalyst in challenging an environment where violence has been allowed to flourish, where violence has been normalised and internalised. Tearfund and its partners are committed to ending sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) that affects women, men, girls and boys worldwide, and the leaders of the world are finally paying attention. This report summarises detailed research during 2013–14 and a full report, ‘Transforming masculinities’ from three countries within the African Great Lakes region (GLR). It focuses on the experiences of women and men, their understanding of gender equity and equality, and their beliefs around SGBV. These

Masculinities, faith and ending gender-based violence


beliefs about the way manhood is understood and defined within the home and within communities are deeply rooted. From a faith perspective, the country studies aimed to understand, in more depth, the gender dynamics driving sexual and gender-based violence. The study was carried out in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda and included 1,233 people: 610 men and 623 women. The Anglican Communion and other partners within these three countries form part of Tearfund’s work in engaging men and boys to help end sexual violence. Tearfund has worked in Africa for decades around different programming themes, from responding to emergencies to proactively engaging churches to respond to the HIV and AIDS epidemic. These studies form part of a broader strategy to end sexual violence in 150 communities within fifteen countries, including South Africa, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Liberia and Tanzania. Baseline studies were carried out in Rwanda and Burundi in August to September 2013 and in DRC in January 2014. These provide a helpful foundation for this work. Numerous studies have been carried out on this theme in the mainstream development setting, but few have been based within the Christian theological context. As the Great Lakes Region is largely Christian, it is important to recognise that faith, with its interpretations and teachings about masculine values, may influence lifestyles. Understanding and exploring any harmful values or practices will aid in transforming these, and will encourage the church to adapt, integrate and transform its response to addressing these crucial issues. The church can lead the work on transformative and positive masculinities, and promote a Christ-like model as the norm for men and boys.

Research objectives The research objectives were to make available baseline studies of existing attitudes, knowledge and practices among both men and women around the themes of male identity, gender roles, manhood, gender relations and SGBV; to explore further and gain better understanding of the context within which acts of violence occur and why they occur; to provide a safe space for men and boys to express their own experiences of violence; to design effective programmes to engage men and boys in initiatives aiming to end SGBV; and to challenge and equip the church to promote equitable, caring, non-violent relationships and positive masculinities. The findings were summarised according to themes within all three participating countries. These findings will enable the development of tools to address harmful historical and traditional values, behaviours and knowledge that have influenced societies throughout the years and allow the continuation of SGBV within communities, and the understanding of male identities and roles, experiences of becoming a man, and experiences of trauma and violence within the family and their vulnerabilities in an evolving social environment.


Prabu Deepan and Lizle Loots

Country profiles A brief overview of the contexts Burundi Burundi is a country emerging from a history of civil war which devastated the lives of men and women (Dijkman, Bijleveld and Verwimp 2014; Zicherman 2007). War crimes and gross human rights violations, such as torture and sexual violence, have been documented throughout the civil war (Dijkman, Bijleveld and Verwimp 2014). Today, Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world. This places women and children at particular risk as many women are heads of households and are perceived as unprotected. Early marriages are another consequence of a difficult socioeconomic situation (Zicherman 2007). Most people in Burundi are associated with the Christian faith, and the church is rooted and actively engaged in people’s lives. The Anglican Church in Burundi has been active in addressing SGBV, and acknowledges the positive role men and boys can play in ending such violence. During August and September 2013, a total of 414 people were interviewed through twelve group surveys and twenty focus group discussions across five parishes of the Anglican Diocese of Matana. This included 219 men and 195 women who affiliated themselves to the Christian faith.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) The DRC has been plagued by years of conflict characterised by displacement, the collapse of health services, hunger and malnutrition and brutal violence (International Rescue Committee Survey 2008). In 2008, The International Rescue Committee estimated that between August 1998 and April 2007, 5.4 million people lost their lives. In 2010 and 2011 it was estimated that approximately 1,150 women were raped every day, forty-eight women were raped every hour, and four women were raped every five minutes (Hidrobo, Peterman and Heise 2013). It is important to note, however, that sexual violence is not only a weapon of war; it has been used as a weapon in daily life to oppress and abuse women and girls across the whole country. It is not exclusive to conflict-affected areas or carried out only by those carrying arms. The incidence of intimate partner violence has been reported to be 1.8 times higher than the number of women reporting rape by non-partners in the DRC (Peterman, Palermo and Bredenkamp 2011). This study was conducted in partnership with the Anglican Church in the towns of Bunia, Goma and Bukavu, in Orientale Province and North and South Kivu Provinces. The sample consisted of 428 people which included 153 women, 147 men, fifty-five boys and seventy-three girls (between the ages of fourteen and twenty). “Rape is like guns in our country, it is killing our women,” says a participant to the report from DRC.

Masculinities, faith and ending gender-based violence


Rwanda Known as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda shares its borders with Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and DRC. It is one of the fastest developing countries in East Africa and in Africa as a whole (World Bank 2013). Since its independence in 1962, it has faced many cycles of violence. The most recent was the 1994 genocide which tragically claimed close to one million lives, and in which up to 250,000 women were raped (United Nations 1999). In the aftermath of the Rwanda genocide, the Christian churches in Rwanda have faced extreme criticism from diverse groups and people. The church was accused both of failing to effectively oppose the genocide, and of being actively complicit in the violence (Cooperation NAfD 2013). Since the genocide the church has reinvented itself, pushing its boundaries beyond evangelism to engage in social development issues, particularly in ending SGBV. From August to September 2013 this study was conducted within five parishes of the Anglican Diocese of Kigali: Rutongo, Bumbogo, Mwogo, Bihembe and Ntunga. A total of 391 people were interviewed through ten group surveys and fifteen focus group discussions.

Understanding men, faith and masculinities Summary of findings The research process used multiple statements (which participants could agree or disagree with) and focus group discussions. Participants were separated by gender to encourage greater openness.

Gender roles and decision-making in the home Caregiver role and household activities In all three countries, women and men held strict beliefs about gender roles which influenced their work, roles and responsibilities within their homes and within wider society. In Rwanda, such strong beliefs caused frustration both at home and in the community, and impacted on family relationships. From focus group discussions, it emerged that both men and women faced challenges in living up to their defined gender roles and expectations. Women wanted their husbands to be more actively involved at home but expressed the view that changing the “status quo” was not worth the trouble. One woman noted: “The men in the house will milk the cow, and the women/girls will clean up after them.” Men said they were reluctant to get involved in household activities or caregiving roles as these activities and roles were perceived to be “soft” or more feminine. Participants supported these cultural norms with religious beliefs, often citing the Bible passage from Ephesians where Paul told women: “submit to your husbands.”


Prabu Deepan and Lizle Loots

In Burundi, strictly defined gender roles seemed to be non-negotiable. Most women (94%) agreed that their primary role is to take care of the home and cook for their family. Burundian participants reflected on gender roles as being “natural,” and “how God created them to be.” However, there are tensions, as seen from the introductory quotation. Although men and women were well aware of changing cultural norms and practices in the outside world (such as men having positions as chefs), these were not views felt relevant in the home. Men felt stigmatised by comments from others such as: “why are you doing a woman’s work?” when involved in household activities, even though they expressed the need to be more active fathers. The roles and identities of men and women in the DRC are defined, restricted and controlled by the norms within their communities. Participants used examples from the Bible to justify their views of why God created man to be superior to woman (for example, Adam being manipulated by Eve in Genesis 3). Men and women both agreed that women were responsible for their children’s care but interestingly, over half of men and women did not think that a woman’s most important role was to take care of her home and cook. On asking who carried out the cooking, cleaning and washing of clothes, results clearly showed this was done by the women. However, when respondents were asked if they agreed with the statement: “If a man does these things at home, the woman will neglect and not respect the man,” not all men agreed. One respondent used religion as justification, saying: “God separated the work for men and women; therefore this work is not relevant to men.” A young male participant from Burundi said, “My father is a chef, but I have never tasted the food he cooks, because he never cooks at home.”

Percentage of participants who agreed with the statement: a woman’s most important role is to take care of her home and cook for her family


Source: compiled by authors

Masculinities, faith and ending gender-based violence


Although most men across the three countries held more flexible views of the caregiver role, there were contradictions. The focus group discussions made it clear that participants held conservative views based on the scriptures. Attitudes and practices around gender roles seemed to stem from interpretations of creation. Men and women both held the view that the wife is inferior and unequal to her husband. From these findings it emerges that there is a real need to create safe spaces where core beliefs and particular interpretations of the scripture leading to inequality can be explored and addressed. Only then can people be challenged regarding their roles in the home.

Provider role and decision-making Though the survey findings showed that few men and women in Burundi and Rwanda in particular agreed that men “had to be tough,” this was often contradicted during the focus group discussions, where many individuals discussed the need for men to be tough (Table 7.1). In the DRC, male toughness was linked to superiority, and perceived as the natural order of things and the way God intended it to be, as the quote by a male participant indicated: “When God created man, God said that he was the head of the family, and therefore the man needs to be tough.” In all three countries there was strong agreement that men should be able to provide economically for the family. They are seen as the decision-makers on a variety of issues relating to family life, from health issues and schooling to financial expenditure. Almost 100% of both men and women in all three countries agreed that a woman should obey her husband, leaving little scope for women in decision-making processes. However in the DRC, one participant noted: “Our culture prevents women from progressing. We see in other cultures that women are doing other work, and this is helping the progress and development of their communities. We need the same in our country.” Many men root their sense of manhood in being the provider and the head of their families. However, in Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC, women are increasingly generating income as men struggle to meet the needs of their families. This places a double burden on the women both to take care of their homes and family, and to be the provider. “There is a problem in my house. It is the wife who makes the decisions, because she is the one earning,” said a physically disabled DRC participant who was unable to work. A female DRC participant said, “My husband needs to be tough; if not, I will not respect him.” Men in Rwanda and Burundi said that they felt frustrated when they were unable to fulfil the role of provider in their family. In the DRC, men who were unable to provide enough income for their families seemed to question their identities. They felt that women were leading their families. This left them frustrated and neglected. A man from Bukavu noted: “We don’t feel good, because right at this moment we cannot provide for our families.”



Source: compiled by authors




0% 30%

33% 63%

51% 93%










To be a man means providing for your family/ extended family (Percentage agreeing)

To be a man, you need to be tough (Percentage agreeing)

TABLE 7.1 Attitudes toward statements about men as decision-makers










I think that a man should have the final say in all family matters (Percentage agreeing)

Masculinities, faith and ending gender-based violence


Feelings of frustration and neglect might be part of the reason for the use of violence within the home to demand respect and demonstrate power. This was clearly expressed by a female participant: “He takes the money, but doesn’t give it to me, and if you ask for any he will beat you. Then he asks for food, even when he didn’t give money.” These feelings of being overburdened and frustrated by not fulfilling their role as provider, yet wanting to assert power in decision-making, create a unique tension challenging men’s identities. This could provide an opportunity to promote positive relationships and encourage open discussion between partners in order to share their physical, emotional and economic burdens. There is the potential to involve men in their family lives more actively in terms of fatherhood and family well-being. Engaging men in the capacity of caregiver roles may create a space for them to be role models in their homes, churches and communities.

Control of women’s bodies Although not mentioned by all men in the focus groups, Biblical scriptures which refer to men as the “head of the home” were a clear underlying theme. In Burundi for example, a participant justified men’s control over decisions in the home through the following verse: “. . .the husband is head of the wife as Christ is head of the church” (Ephesians 5: 23). Although these figures vary between countries, it is interesting to note the differences between participants’ views over the rights to a woman’s body in marriage. In Rwanda and Burundi more women than men agreed that they cannot refuse sex.

FIGURE 7.2 Percentage of participants who believe women have no right to refuse sex with their husbands

Source: compiled by authors


Prabu Deepan and Lizle Loots

One of the DRC participants noted: “Marital rape is not possible, because the woman’s body doesn’t belong to her according to the scriptures.” A participant in Burundi noted that disciplining a wife was linked to Biblical manhood, and that it was important to show this in front of children and the community to maintain respect and control.

Manhood and sexual and gender-based violence Violence and honour It is important to understand that any form of violence, whether sexual or physical, does not happen in a vacuum. While many external factors can aggravate the potential for violence and create a culture of impunity, these are not the root causes of the violence. A male participant from Rwanda said, “You can’t go to the jungle and blame the animal for attacking its prey.” In both DRC and Burundi approximately two thirds of both men and women agreed that a woman should tolerate violence for the sake of her family. Physical violence is believed to be an accepted characteristic of men being head of their household. In a conflict environment where many men are unable to provide for their families, this may be a method of regaining control. This is in stark contrast with the majority belief in Rwanda where both men and women felt that domestic violence should not be tolerated. The response to the statement asking whether it is manly to defend the honour of the family, even by violent means, brought nearly unanimous agreement from both men and women in Burundi and Rwanda. While most men felt it was their duty to protect the family, there was also an expectation from women for men to fulfil this role. Interestingly the statistics were much lower in DRC with only a third of men agreeing. In Burundi, although all men in the survey said they did not agree that women deserved to be beaten (Table 7.2), in face-to-face discussions, it became clear that they actually held opposite views, saying that they needed to be corrected. A male participant from the DRC commented: “In our culture it is a sign of love for a woman to be beaten” and: In marital life there are several problems that take place. In the case of a drunkard husband, a wife should understand his state. He can do anything to her and she should understand that he doesn’t know what he is doing. Women’s expectation of tolerating violence from their husbands, together with the dominant, forceful and controlling attributes of men and their need to correct or discipline women, poses a serious threat to equitable relationships. It is fascinating that in Rwanda both men and women unanimously disagreed with wife beating in any situation.



Source: compiled by authors




1% 67%

60% 12%

2% 0%










There are times when a woman deserves to be beaten (Percentage agreeing)

A woman should tolerate violence to keep her family together (Percentage agreeing)

TABLE 7.2 Acceptance of physical intimate partner violence










It is manly to defend the honour of your family even by violent means (Percentage agreeing)


Prabu Deepan and Lizle Loots

Sexual violence Questions on sexual violence were framed around the central theme of victimblaming. Men and women in Rwanda, although holding strong views around the issue of appropriate dress, are much more progressive in their perceptions about sexual violence and accountability when compared to the results from Burundi and the DRC. The burden of responsibility is placed on the victim by almost all men and women, across all three countries, rather than on the man’s wrong-doing (which is instead attributed to outside factors “breaking men’s spirits”). This is an issue which clearly needs to be addressed. The church has a special role to play since it has the power to influence norms and thus to change. A female participant from the DRC said, “Christian men rape because their spirit is broken, and not freed from bondage.” In Burundi, 89% of men and 93% of women said that if a victim did not physically fight back, it was not rape. A culture of shame and stigma was associated with SGBV and participants focused on the behaviour of the victim rather than that of the perpetrator. However, interestingly, in DRC only 22% of men and 43% of women agreed with this statement, whilst in Rwanda only 14% of men and no women agreed. In DRC one participant commented on the gendered dimension of rape, “We are raped because we are women.” SGBV cannot be addressed without addressing the cultural and religious influences on gender and masculinities. In all three countries sexual violence is not exclusive to conflict zones but has been deeply rooted in these societies for years. A burden is placed on survivors to keep silent, both to protect the honour of their families and because of their fear of rejection and being stigmatised. This may often keep survivors from accessing essential health and justice services. Churches should be active in breaking the silence and in assisting survivors to access services. A participant from DRC said, “As a Christian you shouldn’t avenge yourself, the laws of this country are there for this.” But there is also hope, as this quote from a participant in DRC shows: “If my wife is raped I will accept her, because I love her. If I reject her, she may die.”

TABLE 7.3 Attitudes toward statements about sexual violence

I believe some women “ask to be raped” by the way they dress and behave (Percentage agreeing)

I think that if a woman doesn’t physically fight back then it isn’t rape (Percentage agreeing)





















Source: compiled by authors

Masculinities, faith and ending gender-based violence


What can be done? Conclusion and recommendations SGBV cannot be addressed without addressing cultural and religious influences on gender and masculinities, such as roles and identities. From the quotes and findings in this study, it is evident that sexual violence is fundamentally an issue of inequality. Unequal attitudes, practices, beliefs and structures perpetuate and contribute to the impunity of violence. It is also evident that many people hold conservative views and interpretations of the scripture, which first need to be addressed in order to build equality. There are many opportunities for the church, faith-based organisations, and non-faith-based organisations to intervene and impact on behaviour and practices. The following recommendations are made:

Break the silence The church needs to openly denounce and reject the normalisation of sexual and gender-based violence under any circumstances. It needs to break the stigma associated with survivors of violence. This will encourage survivors to speak out and have the faith and courage to pursue justice though the courts.

Build awareness and understanding There needs to be sound theologically based education for leaders, pastors and bishops in order to transform harmful understanding of the scriptures. Pre-and postmarriage counselling should be offered which includes teaching on intimate partner violence, marital rape and equitable relationships. This teaching should also include awareness around existing laws, policies and services related to SGBV.

Provide positive leadership and role models Church leadership, at all levels, should promote positive leadership models to challenge the dominant, controlling and violent leadership that has been shown by men in the church, community, or business setting. The church should show its commitment to uphold principles of non-violence and equity. There need to be programmes for young people encouraging positive masculinities, nurturing and growing positive relationships and family wellbeing. There should be programmes for new parents on positive fatherhood and positive parenting practices in general.

Provide safe spaces Safe spaces for men need to be created where they can discuss the concept of positive masculinities, and where discussions can be facilitated to enable them to


Prabu Deepan and Lizle Loots

share their frustrations, challenges and traumatic experiences with peers and church leaders. This is crucial to help men adapt to the changes around them and find healing from past experiences.

Establish effective partnerships Churches should explore interfaith dialogues in an effort to end SGBV. Church leadership must also engage in joint advocacy efforts, both locally and nationally, adding its voice to other campaigns and working collaboratively with other agencies to rationalise limited resources and increase impact. The church and non-FBOS need to find common ground in order to work in partnership on SGBV-related prevention, response, care and support services, and to address this issue efficiently and holistically.

Enhance policy and practice The international community should regard as a priority a focus on building the capacity of governments to address SGBV. Judicial systems must be scrutinised and strengthened to hold perpetrators accountable and end the culture of impunity. This includes providing protection to survivors to enable them to access justice without fear of rejection and intimidation from their communities.

Notes This summary report is based on research commissioned by Tearfund’s Incubation Hub and conducted by Prabu Deepan, Technical Lead for Gender. Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency building a global network of local churches to help eradicate poverty. It is committed to working with the church to end sexual violence in 150 communities across fifteen countries by 2018. It is a founding member of “We Will Speak Out” (, a coalition of faith-based groups, international aid agencies and individuals committed to seeing the end of sexual violence in communities worldwide.

References Barker G, Contreras JM, Heilman B, Singh AK, Verma RK, Nascimento M. Evolving men: Initial results from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES). International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and Rio de Janeiro: Instituto Promundo; 2011 Contreras M, Heilman B, Barker G, Singh A, Verma R, Bloomfield J. Bridges to adulthood: Understanding the lifelong influence of men’s childhood experiences of violence. Instituto Promundo and International Center for Research on Women (ICRW); 2012 Cooperation nafd. Lobbying for faith and family: A study of Religious ngos at the United Nations. Oslo, Norway: NORAD; 2013

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Dijkman NEJ, Bijleveld C, Verwimp P. Sexual violence in Burundi: Victims, perpetrators, and the role of conflict. The Institute of Development Studies–at the University of Sussex; 2014 Hidrobo M, Peterman A, Heise L. The effect of cash, vouchers and food transfers on intimate partner violence: Evidence from a randomized experiment in Northern Ecuador. SVRI Forum 2013: Evidence into Action, 14–17 October 2013. Bangkok, Thailand: Sexual Violence Research Initiative; 2013 International Rescue Committee Survey. Mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo, an ongoing crisis; 2008 Peterman A, Palermo T, Bredenkamp C. Estimates and determinants of sexual violence against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. American Journal of Public Health. 2011; 101(6): 1060–1067 Population Council. Sexual and gender based violence in Africa: Literature review. Nairobi, Kenya: Population Coude-ncil; 2008 United Nations. Rwanda: A brief history of the country. Outreach Programme on the Rwanda Genocide and the United Nations. 1999. ocide/rwanda/education/rwandagenocide.shtml World Bank. Maintaining momentum: With a special focus on Rwanda’s pathway out of poverty: World Bank; 25 January 2013 WHO, LSHTM, MRC. Global and regional estimates of violence against women: Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence. WHO; 2013. Zicherman N. Addressing sexual violence in post-conflict Burundi. Forced Migration Review. 2007; 27: 48-49

8 ENGAGING MEN IN ENDING MEN’S VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN Beyond the mantras and towards more effective practice Michael Flood

Introduction It is time for a critical stocktake of efforts to involve men in the prevention of violence against women. Efforts to engage men in preventing and reducing men’s violence against women, and more generally in building gender equality, are increasingly well established, signalled by new regional and international networks, conferences and campaigns, an expansion of domains of intervention, an orientation towards ‘scaling up’, and an increasing engagement with public policy (Flood, 2015). In particular, it is time to assess a series of assumptions about this work which are influential and yet which are unsupported by evidence or dangerous. I have long argued that men have a positive and vital role to play in ending men’s violence against women (Flood 2010, 2011). But advocacy must be accompanied by reflexive and critical assessment. I provide an assessment of three dimensions of the men’s violence prevention field: (1) its relations with feminism; (2) its understandings of men and gender; and (3) its approaches to engaging men. I draw on published research and ‘grey’ literature on efforts to engage men in violence prevention, as well as my own experience in Australian and international campaigns and networks, to describe and critically assess each dimension.

Relations with feminism From the beginnings of violence prevention work with men, feminists have expressed concern about its practice and politics. There are concerns that the development of efforts to engage men in preventing violence against women may reduce funding for women’s programmes and services, dilute the feminist orientation of prevention agencies, marginalise women’s voices, or involve only rhetorical rather than substantive support from men. To what extent have these concerns been realised?

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There are few examples where violence prevention work with men has directly taken funding away from work with women. Funding support for work with men and boys, as a proportion of all work addressing gender equality, appears to be very small (Dover 2014). But there have been tensions between efforts to engage men and boys and other feminist efforts focused on women and girls themselves. For example, an international study among representatives of organisations that engage men and boys (in Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania and North and South America) found that many spoke of experiencing suspicion from or conflict with victims’ organisations and feminist and (other) women’s groups (Casey et al. 2013). Some have expressed concern that men may ‘take over’ violence prevention campaigns. But I am more concerned that they will not take it up. Few men support such efforts, and most of the work is done by women. In Australia for example, while the White Ribbon Campaign is described as a ‘male-led’ effort to end violence against women, only one-third of the community events in 2014 were organised by men. However, some men in the movement do act in patriarchal ways. The small number of studies among male activists and educators – nearly all from North America, and none which are longitudinal – does find that these men do develop more anti-sexist forms of practice. At the same time, some male activists and educators dominate interactions, claim unearned expertise or adopt paternalistic and homophobic stances (Flood 2014; Macomber 2012). Male advocates may be given greater status, power and recognition than women doing similar work and rise more quickly to leadership positions. This echoes the ‘glass escalator’ effect documented among men in other feminised professions. Around the globe, work with men often is done by women’s and violencefocused organisations. A global survey of organisations that seek to engage men in violence prevention found that at least in terms of numbers of organisations, most of this work is being done by organisations with a wider agenda involving sexual violence prevention, batterer intervention, domestic violence service provision, and so on, although men-specific organisations are increasing particularly in North America (Kimball et al. 2012). Still, most men-specific organisations collaborate with women’s organisations, although this may not mean effective partnerships or the absence of resource competition or the dilution of feminist efforts. The growing emphasis on the need to involve men in stopping violence against women is a feminist achievement. But it has diminished recognition of the need for women-only and women-focused programs and services. It may have fuelled a mistaken belief that all interventions should include men (Castelino 2013). Some women’s organisations report that they now are subject to pressure to include men (Meer 2011), although to their credit, international networks such as MenEngage have affirmed the vital importance of women’s autonomous organisations and leadership.


Michael Flood

Understandings of men, gender, violence and social change Typical understandings in the ‘engaging men’ field show three weaknesses. First, violence prevention efforts often have focused on changing men’s attitudes. This is evident in the articulated goals of interventions and programs, in the kinds of strategies used in them, and particularly in the outcome measures used. In a systematic review of interventions for preventing boys’ and men’s sexual violence, across sixty-five studies, outcomes in forty-seven studies included attitudes towards violence and in twenty-five included attitudes towards women, while outcomes in only sixteen and nine studies included the use of non-sexual violence and sexual violence respectively (Ricardo et al. 2011, 24). There are several problems here. A focus on attitudes neglects the structural and institutional inequalities which are fundamental in shaping men’s violence against women. Changing attitudes does not necessarily change behaviour, and the relationship between attitudes and behaviour is both complex and two-way (Pease and Flood 2008). Violence prevention efforts focused on men and boys often echo the public health approach to interpersonal violence. And there are some tensions between this and feminist approaches. Public health approaches are more likely to frame violence against women as a contributor to poor health than as a social injustice, and public health approaches have been criticised for narrow standards of evidence and neglect of the collective and institutional factors shaping health. However, perhaps because of its feminist roots and activist orientations, international men’s anti-violence work also frames violence prevention in terms of social justice. The second issue is how men are seen and treated. Feminist scholarship takes as given an intersectional approach: gender intersects with other forms of social difference and inequality. While there is widespread recognition of this in the men’s anti-violence field (Casey et al. 2013), this has not necessarily translated into practice particularly in the global North. There has been very little comparative assessment of the value of approaches tailored to specific populations, although there is evidence that culturally relevant interventions are more effective than ‘culture-blind’ or generic ones (Heppner et al. 1999). Intersecting forms of social disadvantage also make it hard to engage men in violence prevention. One key issue here is the problem of asking disadvantaged men to critically evaluate their power and privilege, and to be agents of social change. Much violence prevention work often neglects gay and queer men and transgender people. Efforts to engage men and boys in ending violence tend also to treat violence itself as homogenous. Scholarship shows an increasing emphasis on the ways in which violence is heterogenous (Johnson 2008). There are different patterns of violence in heterosexual couples, which demand different explanations and different responses. There are also some problematic framings in this field. These have been documented in research among US and Australian participants and may also have wider currency. One is a pervasive distinction between ‘masculinity’ and

Engaging men in ending men’s violence against women


‘men’, allowing a critique of sexism and violence as a problem of ‘traditional masculinity’. This can lessen attention to men’s violent practices (Macomber 2012; Castelino 2013). Another problematic framing is that some men in this field make distinctions between ‘us’ and ‘them’, between ‘well-meaning men’ or ‘men of conscience’ and those ‘other’ men who assault women. This can involve a focus only on obvious forms of violence, to the neglect of other forms of coercion or violencesupportive attitudes and relations. It can neglect men’s privileges and entitlements in a patriarchal society.

Approach to engaging men The third dimension of this field I assess is its approach to engaging men. There are some ‘mantras’, some assumptions which are part of an emerging consensus in men’s violence prevention, but are based on shaky evidence, have potentially dangerous effects, or should be articulated more carefully. The first assumption is that our efforts work. Instead, most interventions are not evaluated, and existing evaluations often are methodologically or conceptually weak. At the same time, there is evidence that some interventions do work. There have now been three systematic reviews of published studies among men and boys (World Health Organization 2007; Ricardo et al. 2011; Dworkin et al. 2013). These reviews show that interventions, if well designed, can produce change in the attitudes and behaviours associated with violence against women. But they also show that the body of evidence is weak. For example, in Ricardo and colleagues’ review of sixty-five studies, only seven studies with a strong or moderate research design demonstrated an impact on the perpetration of nonsexual violence, and only one of the well-designed studies demonstrated an impact on sexually violent behaviour. The second assumption is that men will benefit from progress towards nonviolence and gender equality. The notion of benefit to men is visible for example in various overviews or background documents on men and violence prevention, typically in terms of the idea that men are constrained by dominant constructions of masculinity or the ‘costs of patriarchy’, and given routine emphasis in the wider field of engaging men in building gender equality, as shown for example at the recent UN Commission on the Status of Women in March 2015 (Anderson 2015). An emphasis on benefits to men should avoid downplaying the patriarchal organisation of gender and violence and thus the actual obstacles to change. In the first instance, men who use violence against their partners or other women benefit directly from this (Stark 2010, 207). More widely, men in general benefit from some men’s violence against women. In limiting women’s autonomy and safety and their access to economic and political power, this violence has the social consequence of reproducing men’s authority over women. There is a real sense then in which men will ‘lose’ from progress towards non-violence and gender equality. Efforts to involve men must acknowledge


Michael Flood

the costs to men of undermining the patriarchal privileges which underpin men’s violence against women. They should also acknowledge the potential costs of involvement in violence prevention itself, given that the men and boys who participate may be ridiculed or harassed for lack of conformity to masculine norms (Crooks et al. 2007). At the same time, it would be a mistake to appeal to men purely on altruistic grounds. We should also appeal to men’s reconstructed or anti-patriarchal interests – the stake that some men already feel in freer, safer, more egalitarian lives for women and girls. A third common assumption is that the best people to engage and work with men are other men. There are two parts to this: an emphasis on all-male groups, and an emphasis on male educators and trainers. While there are pedagogical and political advantages to single-sex groups (Flood et al. 2009), the actual evidence regarding the merits of single-sex versus mixed-sex groups is equivocal (Anderson et al. 2005; Clinton-Sherrod et al. 2009; Ricardo et al. 2011; Vladutiu et al. 2011). The most effective sex composition of groups may depend on such factors as the focus and goals of the teaching sessions and the nature of the teaching methods used. What about the use of male educators? Yes, the use of male educators has particular benefits. But again, there is little robust research evidence in the violence prevention field regarding the effectiveness of matching educators and participants by sex (Flood et al. 2009). And various studies find that many men’s initial sensitisation to the issue of violence against women was fostered in particular by listening to women and women’s experience (Casey and Smith 2010; Piccigallo et al. 2012). Another common practice is the use of ‘real’ men to engage men, e.g. in marketing campaigns: sporting heroes, popular men and so on. Such men are seen as ‘bell cows’, able to lead other males into this work because of their conformity to prevalent gender norms (Murphy 2010). However, an exclusive reliance on men who conform to gender codes may also limit social change. Men’s violence against women is sustained in part by rigid gender codes, the policing of manhood and rigid gender binaries. Violence prevention efforts among boys and men also should affirm and promote men who do not fit dominant codes of masculinity: ‘girly’ men, gay men, ‘sissy’ men and transgender men. They should break down narrow constructions of manhood and powerful gender binaries. They should ‘turn up the volume’ on the actual gender and sexual diversity in men’s lives (Heasley 2005). A fourth, common mantra is that the goal is to encourage new, positive masculinities among men. Some campaigns explicitly appeal to ‘real’ men, stating for example that ‘real men don’t use violence’. Other campaigns appeal to stereotypically masculine qualities like strength or courage while simultaneously seeking to redefine them. There is an obvious logic here, an effort to undermine the socially produced association between violence and masculinity (Flood 2002–2003). At the same

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time, campaigns also should actively encourage men’s disinvestment in gendered identities and boundaries (Stoltenberg 2013). Violence prevention work among boys and men should seek not only to challenge the dominant cultural meanings given to manhood, but the gender binaries and hierarchical policing of gender which complement them. The fifth and final assumption I want to complicate is that the best way to change men is to work with men. Changing men also may be achieved by engaging and empowering women and by focusing on transforming inequitable gender relations. Changing men can be achieved by working with women, and by shifting the wider conditions within which men make choices about violence and non-violence. By shifting women’s expectations of partners and intimate relations, interventions may increase the pressures on and incentives for heterosexual men to adopt nonviolent practices and identities. Interventions can harness men’s motivations to be accepted and liked by women, by encouraging women’s unwillingness to associate with sexist and aggressive men (Adams-Curtis and Forbes 2004). There are other strategies which also ‘force’ men to change. Violence prevention efforts should include efforts to change the structural and institutional conditions within which men make choices about how to behave. Strategies include empowering women, decreasing their economic dependence on men, shifting workplace and sporting cultures, and changing laws and policies.

Conclusion ‘Engaging men’ has become almost a routine element in efforts around the globe to reduce and prevent men’s violence against women. This is a significant feminist achievement, feminist because it embodies the fundamental recognition that violence against women is a problem for which men are overwhelmingly responsible and which men must join with women to address. As the field of engaging men in prevention develops however, it risks the uncritical adoption of some taken-for-granted truths which are inaccurate, dangerous, or simplistic. A critical assessment of the field’s working assumptions is vital if it is to make progress in reducing and preventing men’s violence against women. Note: A longer version of this article has been published in the journal Culture, Health & Sexuality.

References Adams-Curtis, L. E., and G. B. Forbes. 2004. “College Women’s Experiences of Sexual Coercion: A Review of Cultural, Perpetrator, Victim, and Situational Variables.” Trauma, Violence, & Abuse 5 (2): 91–122. Anderson, L. 2015. Gender Equality: What’s in It For Men? Toronto: Thomson Reuters. March 12.


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Anderson, L. A., and S. C. Whiston. 2005. “Sexual Assault Education Programs: A MetaAnalytic Examination of Their Effectiveness.” Psychology of Women Quarterly 29 (4): 374–388. Casey, E., and T. Smith. 2010. “‘How Can I Not?’: Men’s Pathways to Involvement in Anti-Violence Against Women Work.” Violence against Women 16 (8): 953–973. Casey, E. A., J. C. Carlson, C. Fraguela-Rios, E. Kimball, T. Neugut, R. M. Tolman, and J. Edleson. 2013. “Contexts, Challenges, and Tensions in Global Efforts to Engage Men in the Prevention of violence Against Women: An Ecological Analysis.” Men and Masculinities 16 (2): 228–251. Castelino, T. 2013. “A Feminist Critique of Men’s Violence against Women Efforts”. No To Violence Journal Autumn: 7–36 (Melbourne: No To Violence – Male Family Violence Prevention Association). Clinton-Sherrod, A. M., A. A. Morgan-Lopez, D. Gibbs, S. R. Hawkins, L. Hart, B. Ball, N. Irwin, and N. Littler 2009. “Factors Contributing to the Effectiveness of Four Schoolbased Sexual Violence Interventions.” Health Promotion Practice 10 (1): 19s–28s. Crooks, C. V., G. R. Goodall, R. Hughes, P. G. Jaffe, and L. L. Baker. 2007. “Engaging Men and Boys in Preventing Violence against Women: Applying a Cognitive-behavioural Model.” Violence against Women 13 (3): 217–239. Dover, P. 2014. “Increasing Engagement of Men and Boys for Gender Equality.” In Development Trends, September. Stockholm: Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency). Dworkin, S. L., S. Treves-Kagan, and S. A. Lippman. 2013. “Gender-Transformative Interventions to Reduce HIV Risks and Violence with Heterosexually-active Men: A Review of the Global Evidence.” AIDS &Behavior 17 (9): 2845–2863. Flood, M. 2002–2003. “Engaging Men: Strategies and Dilemmas in Violence Prevention Education among Men.” Women against Violence: A Feminist Journal 13: 25–32. Flood, M. 2010. Where Men Stand: Men’s Roles in Ending Violence against Women. Sydney: White Ribbon Prevention Research Series, No. 2. Flood, M. 2011. “Involving Men in Efforts to End Violence against Women.” Men and Masculinities 14 (3): 358–377. Flood, M. 2014. “Men’s Anti-Violence Activism and the Construction of Gender-Equitable Masculinities.” In Moving Ahead: Alternative Masculinities for a Changing World, edited by À. Carabí and J. Armengol, 35–50. New York: Palgrave. Flood, M. 2015. “Preventing Male Violence.” In Oxford Textbook of Violence Prevention: Epidemiology, Evidence, and Policy, edited by P. Donnelly and C. Ward, 201–206. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Flood, M., L. Fergus, and M. Heenan. 2009. Respectful Relationships Education: Violence Prevention and Respectful Relationships in Victorian Schools. Melbourne: Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Heasley, R. 2005. “Queer Masculinities of Straight Men: A Typology.” Men and Masculinities 7 (3): 310–320. Heppner, M., J. H. A. Neville, K. Smith, D. M. Kivlighan, and B. S. Gershuny. 1999. “Examining Immediate and Long-term Efficacy of Rape Prevention Programming with Racially Diverse College Men.” Journal of Counseling Psychology 46 (1): 16–26. Johnson, M. P. 2008. A Typology of Domestic Violence: Intimate Terrorism, Violent Resistance, and Situational Couple Violence. Boston: Northeastern University Press. Kimball, E., J. L. Edleson, R. M. Tolman, T. Neugut, and J. Carlson 2012. “Global Efforts to Engage Men in Violence Prevention: An International Survey.” Violence against Women 19 (7): 924–939.

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Macomber, K. C. 2012. Men as Allies: Mobilizing Men to End Violence against Women. A dissertation submitted to the Graduate Faculty of North Carolina State University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Sociology, Raleigh, North Carolina. Meer, S. 2011. “Struggles for Gender Equality: Reflections on the Place of Men and Men’s Organisations.” In Open Debate, Johannesburg: Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, Chapters 2–4. Murphy, M. J. 2010. “An Open Letter to the Organizers, Presenters and Attendees of the First National Conference for Campus Based Men’s Gender Equality and Anti-Violence Groups (St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN, November 2009.” The Journal of Men’s Studies 18 (1): 103–108. Pease, B., and M. Flood 2008. “Rethinking the Significance of Attitudes’ in Challenging Men’s Violence against Women.” Australian Journal of Social Issues 43: 547–561. Piccigallo, J. R., T. G. Lilley, and S. L. Miller 2012. “‘It’s Cool to Care about Sexual Violence’: Men’s Experiences with Sexual Assault Prevention”. Men and Masculinities 15 (5): 507–525. Ricardo, C., M. Eads, and G. Barker 2011. Engaging Boys and Men in the Prevention of Sexual Violence: A Systematic and Global Review of Evaluated Interventions. Pretoria, South Africa: Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) and Promundo. Stark, E. 2010. “Do Violent Acts Equal Abuse? Resolving the Gender Parity/Asymmetry Dilemma.” Sex Roles 62 (3–4): 201–211. Stoltenberg, J. 2013. “Why Talking about ‘Healthy Masculinity’ Is Like Talking about ‘Healthy Cancer’.” August 9. URL:, Accessed August 12 2013. Vladutiu, C. J., S. L. Martin, and R. J. Macy 2011. “College- or University-based Sexual Assault Prevention Programs: A Review of Program Outcomes, Characteristics, and Recommendations.” Trauma, Violence, Abuse 12 (2): 67–86. World Health Organization. 2007. Engaging Men and Boys in Changing Gender-Based Inequity in Health: Evidence from Programme Interventions. Geneva: WHO.

9 INVOLVING MEN IN SHARING THE CONTRACEPTIVE BURDEN Experiences from a community intervention with men in Madhya Pradesh, India Sana Contractor, Shreeti Shakya, Satish Kumar Singh and Mahendra Kumar Introduction The burden of contraception in India lies squarely with women today with female sterilisation continuing to be the predominant method of contraception used in the country. As per the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015–16) 48% of married women used a modern method of contraception, and 36% was in the form of female sterilisation (IIPS and ICF, 2017). As per the Health and Family Welfare Statistics of 2017, 98.1% of all sterilisation operations were performed on women. In fact, female sterilisations as a proportion of total annual sterilisation operations (male or female), have increased from 78.6% in the early 1980s to 98.1% in 2017 suggesting a decline in use of vasectomies (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, 2017). This focus on female methods continues even though the National Population Policy formulated more than fifteen years ago, expressly notes the absence of men in the family planning programme and promotes their participation. This paper discusses the context of the family planning programme in India, and the specific challenges to working with men in this regard. It then describes an intervention that was implemented by the Centre for Health and Social Justice in collaboration with two partners – Gram Sudhar Samiti and Dharti Sansthan – in Sidhi and Morena districts of Madhya Pradesh, which sought to provide a platform where men come forward to recognise their responsibility and actively participate to correct this imbalance in contraceptive use. The paper describes various domains in which changes have been observed, and discusses its implications for the family planning programme in India.

Contraception and women’s rights Control over one’s fertility is an important marker of women’s empowerment and a long standing demand of the feminist movement. Feminists have viewed the

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ability to control one’s fertility as an integral part of the right to self-determination. Nineteenth century feminists viewed ‘voluntary motherhood’ as an important and necessary precondition for female emancipation. Later in the twentieth century, birth control was viewed as a powerful tool for sexual and social liberation (DixonMueller 1993). It has been argued that lower fertility levels combined with longer life expectancies would reduce the importance of marriage and motherhood in women’s lives, would free women from childbearing and indirectly facilitate a shift in gender relations by allowing them time and space to participate in political change, and allow women greater opportunity to participate in public spaces and become active agents in shaping culture (Malhotra 2012). This inherent belief in women’s control over fertility and its relationship to gender equality is what has made the fight for access to contraception an important struggle in the feminist movement. At the same time, feminists especially in India have also been concerned about the thrusting of contraceptives on women in the interest of controlling ‘population explosion’. In India, the family planning programme which began in the 1950s was started with the aim to enable women and men to plan their families, however it quickly took on demographic imperatives (Karkal 1998). In the 1960s, as public health advances increased life expectancy, Malthusian fears overtook the Global North and family planning came to be part of the agenda of international aid agencies. In 1966–67, time-bound targets were first introduced to enhance the decline in birth rates. These targets were set by the Central Government and in turn passed on to lower levels – state, districts, primary health centres, sub-centres and functionaries (Das 2013). In, the 1970s, this drive to control the population explosion was at its highest which ended up with a coercive programme for both men and women. At this juncture, feminist voices raised important concerns regarding the coercive nature of population control measures especially in the Global South, and poor quality of care therein. By the 1980s, one could see a decline in the participation by men in contraceptive use but the idea of a population explosion remained which resulted in continued coerced sterilisation among women. The family planning programme has been characterised by coercion and poor quality of care, which has been guilty of violating women’s rights in more ways than one. Advocates of women’s health rights have repeatedly called for framing policies which keep women’s interest at the centre. They have even approached the Courts for various measures to make women’s contraceptives safer and voluntary (including banning of Quinacrine as a contraceptive, restricting use of injectables, enforcing quality norms for sterilisation and instructing the introduction of a compensation scheme for failures and adverse outcomes). Thus, women’s rights activists have had to balance their position between defending the right to access contraception on the one hand, to ensuring that women’s health and interests are at the centre of family planning programmes. The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in 1994, shifted the discourse of women’s reproductive health in many ways, one of them being from target-based population control to that of reproductive


Sana Contractor et al.

rights and women’s empowerment. The Cairo conference made a call for moving beyond narrowly focused population programmes to looking at family planning within a paradigm of reproductive rights, which includes providing an enabling environment for women’s empowerment to take root. It recognised that “Advancing gender equality and equity and the empowerment of women, and the elimination of all kinds of violence against women, and ensuring women’s ability to control their own fertility, are cornerstones of population and development-related programmes.” This was also the first time that the role of men in taking greater responsibility in reproductive health was articulated. The Programme of Action of the Cairo Conference called upon governments “to encourage and enable men to take responsibility for their sexual and reproductive behaviour and their social and family roles,” recognising that reproduction was a shared responsibility but unequal gender relations has put the entire burden on child bearing and rearing on women alone.

Family Planning Programme in India: the role of men India started the first national family planning programme in the world over sixty years ago, and has had a chequered history. From being a programme which was seen as being essentially supportive to the more robust maternal and child health programme it became so big in its size and budget, as the fears of a ‘population explosion’ overwhelmed planners. From seeing development as the best contraceptive (1974), Indian policymakers moved to a radically different policy of forced sterilisation of men and women within a very short time span (1975–77). During this period the programme became an entirely target driven numbers game where all government officials from village school teacher to the District Collectors were being judged by the number of sterilisation procedures they delivered in a year (twenty-point programme of the 1980s) (Das, 2013). Some progressive changes did take place, however, in the post-ICPD era when India entered a “target-free”, reproductive and child health regime (1996–97), and adopted a new National Population Policy (2000), which called for an integrated approach to population and development. In keeping with the commitments made at the ICPD-4, the policy expressly made a call for a move away from targets and coercion and at the same time also recognised the importance of women’s overall empowerment in addressing population. The policy set down ‘National sociodemographic goals’ which recognised the need for coordination especially with the social sector, to address not just the unmet need for family planning, but also education of girls, delayed marriage for girls, reduction in maternal mortality and so on. Thus the policy expressly recognised that achieving a stable population requires not just greater contraceptive use, but also many other social measures that support women’s autonomy and empower them to make choices regarding their fertility. Further, the new policy emphasised men’s involvement in reproductive health programmes which had long been ignored. It specifically mentions:

Involving men in sharing the contraceptive burden


In the past, population programmes have tended to exclude menfolk. Gender inequalities in patriarchal societies ensure that men play a critical role in determining the education and employment of family members, age at marriage, besides access to and utilisation of health, nutrition, and family welfare services for women and children. The active involvement of men is called for in planning families, supporting contraceptive use, helping pregnant women stay healthy, arranging skilled care during delivery, avoiding delays in seeking care, helping after the baby is born and, finally, in being a responsible father. In short, the active cooperation and participation of men is vital for ensuring programme acceptance. Further, currently, over 97% of sterilisations are tubectomies and this manifestation of gender imbalance needs to be corrected. The special needs of men include re-popularising vasectomies, in particular no scalpel vasectomy as a safe and simple procedure, and focusing on men in the information and education campaigns to promote the small family norm. Despite recognising the importance of involving men in contraceptive use, the uptake of male contraception is abysmally low. As per the DLHS 3 survey, condom use stands at a mere 4.6% and male sterilisation an abysmal 0.8%. The low use of contraception by men in India can be explained by both social as well as health system factors. On the social front, this reluctance on the part of men to use contraception or undergo vasectomy is rooted in notions of masculinity and fear of losing sexual drive along with the ability to procreate. In other words, men are afraid of being ‘not man enough’ if they lose the ability to procreate. Other misconceptions regarding vasectomy leading to decreased libido, impact on sexual performance, inability to work, perception that tubectomy is a safer procedure and so on. Interestingly, several studies from various parts of India show that men’s knowledge about vasectomy is actually quite good, but very few men are willing to undergo the operation. For example, one study from Delhi found that 77% of men were aware about vasectomy but only 1.8% were practicing it (Dutta, Kapilashrami and Tiwari 2004). Another study from Bangalore found that although 82% of men were aware of vasectomy and 17% knew that it was a safer method than tubectomy, only one of the 146 eligible couples in the study had used vasectomy as a method of contraception (Madhukumar and Pavithra 2015). Yet another study from Maharashtra showed that although 97% of men were aware of vasectomy, 46% disapproved of vasectomy as a method of contraception. The reasons for disapproval included fears that vasectomy would adversely affect their income, lead to general weakness, may result in reduced sexual performance, and the belief that as women do not do hard work, they live in home and hence can take rest and tubectomy is easier than vasectomy and does not require much rest (Saoji, Gumashta, Hajare and Nayse 2013). Similar misconceptions are echoed in studies from Uttar Pradesh (Khan and Patel 1997; Scott, Alam, Raman 2011). On the systems front, there is certainly a skewed focus on female sterilisation and a lack of attention towards male methods. For


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example, there has been an undue focus on Female Sterilisations in the budgets over the last three years and more. The proportion of resources allocated to Male Sterilisation is very small as compared to that for Female Sterilisation.1 Further, the distribution of spacing methods like condoms has been handed to the ASHA,2 who is often not able to distribute these methods due to cultural barriers. To add to this, is the history of coercion in the Indian family planning programme, at the time of the Emergency, between 1976–77, when forced and coerced vasectomies were conducted; this history is still alive in people’s memory. During that year, more than eight million sterilisation operations took place, almost three times the number in the previous year (Gwatkin, 1979). It is reported that several disincentives were put in place for refusing to undergo sterilisation after two children, and government employees were given various incentives to motivate men to undergo vasectomy. This experience undoubtedly instilled fear and mistrust of the government family planning programme in the minds of the people, especially among men. Even more than forty years after the Emergency, periodic reports of non-consensual, incentives-driven sterilisations – although not as extensive – still continue to be reported. In 2002 in Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh, five farm-hands hands between the ages of eighteen and thirty-two were taken to a hospital on the pretext of being inoculated against malaria, and given an injection that knocked them out. When they regained consciousness some of them felt pain in their private parts. One of them rushed off to see a private doctor who told him he had been sterilised. The government of Uttar Pradesh in its zest to promote family planning, had offered a gun license for anyone who brought in five cases for sterilisation, and the farm owner sent off his farm hands for the surgery without informing them. Two of the young men were not even married. Though the state government decided to reverse the vasectomy, the incident put off the community against family planning – and vasectomy in particular. (Quoted in Centre for Health and Social Justice, 2012) This coercion continues in today’s family planning policy, with the two-child norm which excludes people with more than two children from a host of opportunities and benefits including public welfare policies like schemes for food (ration cards), education (admission to schools and fee waivers), and livelihoods (jobs, promotions, irrigation and other facilities for farmers), health (provision of public health facilities including maternity benefit schemes) and political empowerment (eligibility to contest in panchayat elections) (Rastogi, 2013). Finally, in the prevailing patriarchal system, Indian men tend to use their superior social position to make decisions often detrimental to women’s health, like marrying off daughters at a very early age, pulling them out of school, inflicting violence on partners or forcing sex on them as a right. In other matters that affect their reproduction or reproductive health, women do not have a voice and decisions regarding if, when, with whom to have sex, as well as desired

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number of children and use of contraceptives are taken by men. There has also been no effort to involve men in reducing some of these barriers that stand in the way of women’s control over their fertility.

The ‘Sajhedar initiative’ It is with this background that we embarked upon an initiative to increase male participation in reproductive health, through engaging with men as responsible partners and fathers. The ‘Sajhedar’3 initiative as it was called, dealt with many facets of maternal and reproductive health. The initiative envisaged an ‘engendered’ social accountability practice that mobilises men in the community through organising and group education. It engaged with young men in the community at two levels: 1.


It facilitated an understanding of gender discrimination and patriarchy in men to bring about changes in their roles as responsible partners and parents. Using the same gendered understanding it also organised and encouraged the men to take public action to challenge gendered social norms that affect reproductive and maternal health (such as early marriage, son preference, early and frequent pregnancies and so on). It established community-based accountability mechanisms with the aim of improving the quality of maternal health service delivery. The objective of this was to increase knowledge of maternal and reproductive health entitlements in the men’s groups as well as the community, to generate an interest in this health issue, and empower the community to negotiate with the health system for improvement of services.

This programme theory of ‘engendered accountability’ as it unfolded in the Sajhedar intervention and its outcomes has been discussed elsewhere (Das et al. 2016). This paper, however, discusses the findings in light of increasing male involvement in family planning.

What we mean by ‘male involvement’ As discussed above, the role of men has been mentioned in the National Population Policy, but they continue to be outside the focus of the family planning programme. This needs to be corrected, but not through coercive measures like those during the Emergency, or through provision of gun licenses or other incentives for motivators of sterilisation. Male involvement in family planning is often erroneously understood to be centred around increasing uptake of vasectomies, which invariably leads to coercion being exercised. However, there are multiple dimensions through which this issue needs to be addressed. Men have to be approached and involved as partners and carers, and not simply as targets for vasectomy as is being done currently. We need to address men’s interests as father/parent and spouse/partner to address issues like early marriage, spacing and contraceptive use. We will also need to address


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men’s anxieties about contraceptive use and failure (including women’s anxieties) as well as their sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs. Moreover, men’s control over women and girls serves as a barrier in the realisation of women’s autonomy which is the most significant marker of control of fertility. Therefore, men also need to be take responsibility for changing social norms that interfere with girls’ education, allow violence against women, early marriages, pregnancies and so on. In recent years, the government of India is once again bringing back focus on male methods of contraception, however the messaging tends to reinforce the man’s position as a gatekeeper in the family. The involvement of men, therefore, needs to be reoriented and looked at within a gender equality paradigm. It is with this understanding that we embarked upon an intervention to increase men’s involvement in various aspects of reproductive health, one of them being family planning. The focus of the intervention with men was to change their status from indirect involvement to cooperative engagement to become better fathers and partners, by adopting gender equitable norms, recognising women’s rights and as a result have improved reproductive and maternal health status of women. On the one hand, the project sought to increase men’s own use of contraception, and on the other, towards women’s empowerment such that women themselves made autonomous decisions about their lives, including with respect to fertility. While these changes took place in the personal and social domain, participants were also provided awareness of entitlements about health programmes and schemes. They used this awareness to demand services from the government.

The area of intervention This intervention was carried out in fifteen villages each in two districts of Madhya Pradesh – Morena and Sidhi. The two districts signify two very different socioeconomic as well as cultural contexts of the communities. In Sidhi, a district located on the north-eastern boundary of Madhya Pradesh, the intervention area consisted of predominantly tribal villages and various tribes such as Gonds and Agaria, along with other communities belonging to the scheduled and backward castes. In the district 48.9% of the households live below poverty line, which is much higher than the national average (30.6%) and a little higher than that of the state (42.3%) (District Level Household and Facility Survey [DLHS-3] 2007–08: India). Patriarchal values in this community are not that strong as compared to the other parts of Madhya Pradesh. Here, both women and men take part in economic activities and women have considerable freedom in terms of mobility. The sex ratio here is 952 which is higher than that for Madhya Pradesh and certainly higher than 819 in Morena. Morena on the other hand, is part of the Chambal region – famous for its particular brand of masculinity – where women are considered izzat (honour) of the family, wear the purdah and have restricted mobility ostensibly for their own protection which is the responsibility of men. Here, feudal practices dominate and display of guns as well as sporting a moustache is a sign of valour, essential to the display of masculinity.

Involving men in sharing the contraceptive burden


Processes of the intervention The intervention followed a peer-learning approach where a leader known as the ‘animator’ was chosen from each village. He was the key person, serving as a ‘rolemodel’ for transformative change in the village. The animator was responsible for forming the group and increasing membership by creating an interest among community men on the issue of gender and health, and role of men. The animators received systematic inputs on various aspects of gender, power and patriarchy, including its implications for reproductive and maternal health. The animator was responsible for having monthly meetings with the members to talk about the different issues and also to facilitate reflective discussions among the members giving space for them to express their experience, views and challenges in the process of becoming cooperative partners. This platform helped men in trying out new positive behaviours along with peer support. This would lead to improved communication with spouse, greater responsibility in family planning, participation in household chores and childcare. During implementation care was taken to emphasise the privileges that men enjoyed and their responsibility to promote gender equality. Through these groups, men were also encouraged to organise campaigns and take public action against gender discriminatory practices such as child marriage, violence, dowry and so on. The group members were provided with information about maternal and reproductive health, the opportunities for community participation under NRHM, as well as their entitlements in government schemes.

Research methods The intervention had a research component built in which sought to assess both the changes occurring due to the intervention as well as the processes by which this change was achieved. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used. The main sources of data for this paper are a quantitative baseline and end line survey among men, two rounds of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), qualitative midline and end line reviews, and a concurrent MIS which gathered stories of change.4 The baseline and end line surveys included men who had been part of the intervention either as animators or as group members. The sociodemographic profile of respondents is mentioned in Table 9.1. The purpose of the survey was to gauge men’s perceptions about gender equality, their participation in household chores and childcare, their knowledge and understanding of the public health system and entitlements and their own contraceptive use, at the beginning and end of the project period.

Time frame The intervention was undertaken during the period 2011 to 2014. The baseline survey was carried out in April 2012 and end line was in March–April 2014. The first PRA was conducted in August 2012 and the second in October 2013. The


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TABLE 9.1 Sociodemographic profile of male respondents

Baseline Age of male respondents Age Sidhi Below 21 years 2 (1.7%) 21–25 years 38 (31.7%) 26–30 years 46 (38.3%) 31–35 years 34 (28.3%) 36–40 years 0 41 years and above 0 Total 120


Morena 10 (8.1%) 49 (40%) 31 (25.2%) 30 (24.4%) 3 (2.4%) 0 123

Sidhi 9 (5.3%) 35 (20.7%) 52 (30.8%) 50 (29.6%) 19 (11.2%) 4 (2.4%) 169

Morena 19 (8.7%) 75 (34.2%) 65 (30%) 48 (22%) 12 (5.5%) 0 219

Morena 111 (90.2%) 12 (9.8%) 123

Sidhi 153 (90.5%) 16 (9.5%) 169

Morena 164 (74.9%) 55 (25.1%) 219

Sidhi 167 (98.8%) 1 (0.6%) 168* 16 (9.5%) 11 (6.5%) 140 (82.8%) 2 (1.2%) 169

Morena 207 (94.5%) 12 (5.5%) 219 17 (7.8) 115 (52.5%) 0 87 (39.7%) 219

Marital status of the male respondents Status of marriage Married Not married Total (N)

Sidhi 109 (90.8%) 11 (9.2%) 120

Religion and caste-wise distribution of respondents Hindu Muslim Total (N) SC OBC ST General Total (N)

Sidhi 119 (99.2%) 1 (0.8%) 120 7 (5.83%) 7 (5.83%) 101 (84.2%) 5 (4.16%) 120

Morena 119 (96.7%) 4 (3.25%) 123 23 (18.7%) 41 (33.3%) 1 (0.81%) 58 (47.1%) 123

*One respondent in Sidhi did not mention religion Source: Baseline and end line surveys, compiled by authors

mid-term review was carried out in July 2013 and a qualitative end line study conducted in May 2014; both these were conducted by external reviewers.

Findings Change in perceptions regarding men’s use of contraception The core input of the intervention was towards bringing about a sense of consciousness and awareness among the men’s groups, of women’s rights and men’s responsibilities, in the domain of reproductive health. With respect to family planning, the inputs focused on facilitating an understanding of the burden

Involving men in sharing the contraceptive burden


of contraceptive responsibility that women bear, and the lack of autonomy that they have in decision-making related to fertility and sexual relationships. At the same time, the inputs attempted to dispel commonly held myths and notions about male contraceptives. Group members reflected upon and debated these issues in the meetings, which also provided a safe space to share their fears and questions related to contraceptive use. The changes in perceptions related to these parameters are apparent in a comparison of baseline and end line survey data, as well as narratives of men. A progressive shift can be seen in the attitudes of group members regarding women’s role in decision-making regarding sexual relationships and perceptions regarding men’s use of contraception, even vasectomy (Figure 9.1). These changes in attitudes, especially in a community like Morena where notions of masculinity are rigid and entrenched, are quite remarkable. The qualitative study also suggests that there is much more awareness among men with respect to the need for small families and they acknowledged their responsibility. An animator from Morena explains: We have four children and don’t want any more children. I decided that instead of my wife I will undergo sterilisation. I found out that male sterilisation is better than female sterilisation, comparatively it is a less serious procedure and very easy. Women often have to face a lot of problems after getting sterilised. (Animator, Morena)



58.2 22.6


45.4 25.5


56.2 42.4


64.9 21.8


58.5 45.7


65.7 41.6


74.0 0.0

Baseline % (N=243)


10.0 20.0 30.0 40.0 50.0 60.0 70.0 80.0 Endline % (N=388)

Perceptions of men about sexual relationships and family planning

Source: baseline and end line surveys, compiled by authors


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Family planning and use of contraceptives With the changing attitude of men on male contraceptive methods, data from the survey suggests an increase in the use of condoms from 3.7% to 9.8% in Sidhi and 11.7% to 33.5% in Morena (Figure 9.2). The increase in Sidhi has been marginal, perhaps because of the short and irregular supply of condoms from the Karawahi PHC which is hardly functional. ASHAs have reported that there is a demand for condoms, but they are not always able to provide them. Whereas in Morena, because of a better functioning health system, and perhaps the availability of spacing methods, the use of condoms has increased from 12% to 32%. Of the total current condom users, more than 70% had started using it in the last twenty-four months which is also the same time as the intervention. In terms of regularity no user was a one-time user, 30.8% in Sidhi and 45% in Morena were regular users. While these changes are remarkable, it is also worth noting that despite the recognition that contraception is not women’s burden alone, and dispelling of the myths related to vasectomy, only a handful of group members have expressed an interest in getting a vasectomy done and none have actually adopted the method. This suggests that the anxiety over the ‘permanence’ of a vasectomy and its deep-rooted relationship between potency and masculinity will take longer to change. From a health systems perspective, this problem could partially be attributed to the excessive focus of health providers on women for meeting their sterilisation targets. Discussions with health providers during the qualitative end line study revealed that because a very small





45.8 35.4

33.5 28.7

31.4 22.9

16.2 11.9

7.8 0.0 2.6 3.7 9.8

0.0 0.0 1.8 2.4 11.7



0.0 4.6

Morena Baseline (N=111) Sidhi Baseline (N=109)


Sidhi Endline (N=153)

Morena Endline (N=164)

Use of contraception among married male respondents in both districts

Source: baseline and end line surveys, compiled by authors

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proportion of men prefer to get permanently sterilised, they tend to focus on women. As a result, even though men have started to think about vasectomy as a possible method of contraception they are yet to start adopting the method, and additionally there is no interest from the system in helping them get access to the services.

Spacing between children With active discussions on family planning, the intervention also focused on talking about the importance of delaying first pregnancy and spacing between pregnancies. In both districts, there was a dominant social norm of having the first child in the first year of marriage. For newly-wed women, there was pressure to demonstrate fertility and for men, to demonstrate the masculine trait of being potent. This issue was raised among the group members where delaying first pregnancy was focused upon not just in terms of health consequences of early pregnancy to the woman, but also in terms of a couple’s relationship where the woman needs time to adjust in the new home and that families should be planned by the couple in terms of when to have children, how many to have and what would be the methods of contraception to be adopted. As a result, many men recognised the consequences women have to bear due to early pregnancies. We also saw an emerging trend of delaying first child birth. The PRA I and II enquiry data shows that the proportion of couples having a child at least after two years of marriage has increased from 6% to 16% in Sidhi and 27% to 39% in Morena which is a positive example of change in a deep rooted practice, linked inextricably to notions of masculinity and femininity (Figure 9.3).



16.30% 6.40% PRA I



Sidhi FIGURE 9.3

PRA II Morena

Proportion of first births taking place two years after marriage

Source: participatory rural appraisal, data compiled by authors


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Access to contraceptives – facilitating the interface between service providers and men Apart from men’s own reservations in using contraceptives, there has been a gap in the service provision from local health providers who are the key players in the public health system. There has been no space for interface between health workers and men in the community to discuss family planning and contraceptives, and as a result men’s knowledge of sourcing male contraceptives is limited. Baseline data show that many men were not aware of the National Rural Health Mission, community-level health process and most importantly the existence of the ASHAs. Even among those who knew the ASHA, less than 10% were aware of the role of the ASHA in providing counselling on contraceptives. This increased to around 50% in both districts in the end line survey. Due to various cultural and systemic factors, health workers do not take much interest or effort in motivating or counselling men on using contraceptives which leaves women to be sole targets for achieving targets for population stabilisation. The ASHA, being a woman from the community is hesitant to talk about this sensitive issue with men, and vice versa. Recognising this gap, the animators in various villages attempted to increase dialogue between the community men and the health workers, especially ASHAs to avail family planning services. While in Morena a lot of men resorted to sourcing condoms from private shops, in Sidhi, the animators’ themselves, recognising the ASHAs’ hesitation, became the point person for distribution of condoms and counselling on family planning for men. This interface reduced the ASHA’s hesitation as well as that of the men, and facilitated easy access to condoms supplied by the government.

Improved relationships between spouses The increased use of contraception by men who were a part of this intervention, was embedded in much more broader changes taking place within their relationships with their wives. The project inputs focused not just on convincing men to take greater contraceptive responsibility, but rather view this as a part of a more equal, wholesome relationship with their partner. The outcome of this was seen in the form of reduction in violence, greater participation in household chores and better communication between spouses. Self-reported incidents of intimate partner violence (physical, verbal, sexual and control of mobility) have decreased between the baseline and end line surveys. Men’s participation in household work has increased (Figure 9.4); more than a third of men reported in the endline survey that they had, for the first time, begun contributing to household activities such as washing, cleaning, cooking and serving food. Although these are self-reported responses, qualitative data suggests that women too felt that relationships had improved.


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43.0 38.1 37.9

39.4 35.3









38.9 33.5



38.4 35.6


25.0 17.8 18.0







18.6 20.1



DidnÕt do before, do now

Do more than before

Do as much as/less than before

No answer



Self-reported changes in men’s participation in different household chores

Source: baseline and endline surveys, compiled by authors

…going for a trip (other than a visit to relatives) for the first time with my husband gave me good exposure…I built up a lot of confidence and now that hesitation is gone…. I can now ask my husband to help me with household tasks…communication between us has improved and our relationship has been strengthened. (Animator’s wife, Sidhi)

Changing social norms that give women more autonomy Moving beyond sharing of contraceptive responsibility, the inputs of the Sajhedar initiative sought to also address social norms and relationship inequalities that serve as barriers to the realisation of women’s control over their fertility. Apart from using contraceptives themselves, the inputs of the Sajhedar initiative also sought to address other social norms and relationship inequalities that serve as barriers to the realisation of women’s control over their fertility. Changes in two domains in particular were observed, stopping child marriage and promoting education of girls. At the beginning of the project, the communities in both districts did not fare well in terms of women’s overall autonomy which could be seen in the form of early marriages, early and frequent pregnancies and school droupouts among girls. The animators and group members held discussions about these and other social issues such as men’s participation in family responsibilities, early marriage, dowry, dropouts of girls, domestic violence and son preference


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and took positions against these practices. The impact of this is seen to some extent in the changed indicators; for instance, the dropout rate of girls twelve to eighteen years of age has reduced between the first and second PRA. While only 81% of girls in this age group in Sidhi and 77% in Morena were enrolled in school during the first PRA, this proportion increased to 88% in Sidhi and 82% in Morena in the second PRA. Men’s role in challenging the practice of early marriage has also been documented during the intervention. In Sidhi, the proportion of marriages with both the bride and groom above the legal age increased from 50% in PRA I to 93% in PRA II. Similarly in Morena, where only 63% of marriages occurred after the legal age in PRA I, this proportion increased to 84% in PRA II (Table 9.2). Sensitised animators and group members have served as role models by sending their own daughters for higher education, and tried to allay the fears of the community regarding safety of girls going out of the village to study.

TABLE 9.2 Changes in girls’ education and age at marriage

Education of Girls PRA I


Total number Number of girls enrolled in of girls in the age group school 12–18












Total number Number of girls enrolled in of girls in the age group school 12–18 Sidhi 906 (15 villages) Morena 545 (14 villages) Age at Marriage PRA I Total number of marriages above legal age* Sidhi 172 (15 villages) Morena 331 (14 villages)

PRA II Total number % of marriages in the village

Total number of marriages above legal age*

Total number % of marriages in the village











*This table indicates the number of marriages that took place in the previous three years in which the groom and bride were above the legal age. This data was collected separately in February 2015, approximately three years after the first PRA to assess changes. Source: Participatory rural appraisal, data compiled by authors

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In Morena, in one of the villages, a group member re-enrolled his daughter in a school which was in another village. Seeing this five to six more people have re-enrolled their daughters/children in the same school. (Facilitator, Morena) In Sidhi, one of the animators has sent his daughter to do her BSc from a college in Sidhi, and she stays there in a hostel. Earlier he never thought that he would send his daughter to higher studies. (Excerpt from animator story, Sidhi) These stories and changes indicate that the project was successful in not just convincing men to adopt contraceptive measures, but also play a positive role in facilitating greater autonomy for women in the community.

Discussion The initiative described in this paper successfully involved men in the process of family planning, by taking on a greater role as responsible partners in reproduction. It is worth noting that the intervention did not engage with men merely as potential acceptors of vasectomy or condom use, but rather, within a more holistic framework of gender equality. It attempted not just to increase men’s use of contraception, but also create more channels of communication between spouses, promote ideals of gender equality among men, facilitate recognition of men’s responsibility in reproduction and take steps to end harmful social practices that jeopardise women’s control over their own bodies. This appears to have yielded results, even in a short period of time, suggesting that men are not averse to using contraception. This is also not the first intervention which has successfully engaged men in this manner. Among interventions in the Indian context, Men’s Acton to Stop Violence Against Women (MASVAW5) an initiative from Uttar Pradesh stands out, which was able to facilitate a greater understanding of violence and discrimination against women among its participants, as well as encourage equal relationships with spouses which includes joint decision-making on important matters such as reproduction. Another intervention in Mumbai, by the name of Yaari-Dosti, which engages young men to address HIV-related risks, noted a difference in men’s perceptions and knowledge about male contraception and their relationships with their partners as a result of the intervention (Verma et al. 2008). These successes, from diverse contexts, suggest that such changes are indeed possible if men are sensitised to the issue of gender and provided correct information about contraceptives. This also points to the need for comprehensive sexuality education in schools and colleges and much more dissemination of information to dispel myths related to male contraceptives. Despite the positive changes that we see in terms of increase in spacing methods by men, we also recognise that adoption of permanent methods of contraception is still difficult among men. In our project area, the use of vasectomy as a contraceptive method showed no change, and the burden of use of a terminal method continued to be on women. Some men have shown an interest in adopting it in the future. This


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suggests that some beliefs which are rooted more deeply in the fear of losing one’s ability to procreate are more difficult to change than others. Our intervention also points to the fact that there is a need to move beyond merely motivating men to use contraceptives, and a conscious effort needs to be made in involving men to end practices like child marriage and early childbearing, which are important predictors of high fertility and poor women’s health. Men have a role to play not just in taking on greater contraceptive responsibility, but also in involving women in decision-making regarding family size, respecting their autonomy and control over their bodies. A multi-pronged approach of this nature will also yield benefits for women’s reproductive rights and freedoms, as it is men who usually serve as barriers to their realisation. There is evidence to show that men who practice gender sensitive decision-making, are also more likely to use and support use of contraception (Mishra et al. 2014). This intervention also provides pointed insights and learnings for the family planning programme on how it makes contraceptives available to men. Currently, the task of counselling men on contraceptive use and condom distribution rests with the ASHA, who, as we found in this intervention is hesitant in speaking with men about its use. Men, on their part, are also reluctant in approaching the ASHA. In our intervention area, it was the animator who took on the role of condom distribution and counselling, recognising the cultural barriers faced by the ASHA. This suggests, the need for a male volunteer from within the community who can serve as a role model for other men and work alongside the ASHA to this end. These volunteer men need not just be ‘motivators’ for adoption of contraceptive methods, but can address the role of men in reproductive health more holistically, as was done with the animators in this project. A cadre of this nature needs to be considered.

Conclusions The burden of contraception has been on the shoulders of women for far too long. This paper provides some insight and direction for the way forward in involving men in a more meaningful and holistic manner, to take on greater roles in reproduction and childcare. Much more effort needs to be put in by the family planning programme, to engage men as partners rather than means to achieve method-specific targets. The experience described here suggests that such changes are not just possible, they are necessary.

Notes 1 Source: compiled by CBGA from Union Budget estimates and Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No. 371, dated on 11.07.2014. 2 ASHA, as she is commonly known as, is the Accredited Social Health Activist, who is a community health worker as part of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). ASHA is a woman preferably chosen from the village of her appointment. One ASHA is selected for a population of 1000.

Involving men in sharing the contraceptive burden


3 The word Sajhedar means ‘partner’. The intervention was named Sajhedar to indicate partnership both between men and women in families and communities, as well as the partnership of the community with the public health system. 4 A survey among pregnant women was also carried out as part of the intervention, however it enquired only into women’s experience with maternal health services, and men’s participation in pregnancy and childcare. Therefore the results have not been reported in this paper. 5 More about MASVAW can be read on ‘Ten Years of MASVAW's Journey’ http:// journey.pdf

Acknowledgements The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of the field partners in the intervention described in this paper, especially Kedar Rajak from Gram Sudhar Samiti and Suman Singh from Dharti Sansthan. We also acknowledge the valuable input and feedback received from Dr Abhijit Das in the design of the intervention, the research methodology and analysis of data.

Glossary Sajhedar – The word Sajhedar means ‘partner’. The intervention was named Sajhedar to indicate partnership both between men and women in families and communities, as well as the partnership of the community with the public health system. Izzat – Honour


Intra Uterine Device United Nations International Conference on Population and Development Sexual and Reproductive Health Participatory Rural Appraisal Men’s Acton to Stop Violence Against Women

References Centre for Health and Social Justice. (2012) “Men Should be Included Too” Population and Family Planning: Contemporary Challenges and Opportunities. Briefing sheets, CHSJ, New Delhi, India. Accessed 23rd September 2015. Das A. (2013) Family Planning and Contraceptive Use in India – New Priorities, New Approaches. Working paper CHSJ, New Delhi. 1/10215849/fpcontraceptivepaper.pdf Accessed 23rd September 2015.


Sana Contractor et al.

Das A., Pinto E. P., Contractor S. Q., Shakya S., Singh M. K. (2016) Engendered Accountability for Responsive Health Governance: Intervention with Adivasi Men in Madhya Pradesh for Accountability in Maternal Health, CHSJ Working paper.….pdf Accessed 23rd September 2015. Dixon-Mueller, R. (1993) Population Policy & Women’s Rights: Transforming Reproductive Choice. Praeger Publishers, Westport, Connecticut. Part One “Women’s Rights as Human Rights”. Dutta M., Kapilashrami M. C., Tiwari V. K. (2004) Knowledge, Awareness and Extent of Male Participation in Key Areas of Reproductive and Child Health in an Urban Slum of Delhi. Health and Population-Perspectives and Issues, Vol. 27: pp. 49–66. http:// Accessed 23rd September 2015. Gwatkin D. R. (1979) Political Will and Family Planning: The Implications of India’s Emergency Experience. Population and Development Review, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 29–59. International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) and ICF (2017) National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), 2015-16: India Fact Sheet. Mumbai: IIPS. pdf/NFHS4/India.pdf Accessed on 19th September 2018. Karkal, M. (1998) Planning and the Reproductive Rights of Women. In: Understanding Women’s Health Issues: A Reader Edited by Lakshmi Lingam. p. 228. http://www. pdf Accessed 19th September 2018. Khan M. E., Patel B. C. (1997) Male Involvement in Family Planning: A KAP Study in Agra District Uttar Pradesh. Population Council, New Delhi. Madhukumar S. and Pavithra M. B. (2015) A Study about Perceptions, Attitude, and Knowledge Among Men Toward Vasectomy in Bangalore Rural Population. International Journal of Medical Science and Public Health, Vol. 4, No. 8, pp. 1066–1070. http:// Accessed 23rd September 2015. Malhotra A. (2012) Remobilizing the Gender and Fertility Connection: The Case for Examining the Impact of Fertility Control and Fertility Declines On Gender Equality. ICRW. Accessed 23rd September 2015. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (2017) Health and Family Welfare Statistics in India 2017, Government of India. %20Welfare%20Statistics%20in%20India/FW%20Statistics%20in%20India%202017.pdf Accessed 19th September 2018. Mishra A., Nanda P., Speizer I. S., Calhoun L. M., Zimmerman A. and Rochak Bhardwaj R. (2014) Men’s Attitudes on Gender Equality and Their Contraceptive Use in Uttar Pradesh India. Reproductive Health, 11, p. 41. http://www.reproductive-health-jour Accessed 23rd September 2015. Rastogi A. (2013) Litigation strategies for women’s health and rights. Newsletter of the National Coalition Against Two-Child Norm and Coercive Population Policies, July 2013. Accessed on 23rd September 2015. Saoji A., Gumashta R., Hajare S. and Nayse J. (2013) Denial Mode for Vasectomy among Married Men in Central India: Causes and Suggested Strategies. Journal of Psychology Psychotherapy, Vol. 3, No. 120, doi: 10.4172/2161-0487.1000120. http://www.omic Accessed 23rd September 2015.

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Scott B., Alam D. and Raman S. (2011) Factors Affecting Acceptance of Vasectomy in Uttar Pradesh: Insights from Community-Based, Participatory Qualitative Research. The RESPOND Project Study Series: Contributions to Global Knowledge, Report No. 3, New York. Study3-PEER-NSV-Report-May2011-FINAL.pdf Accessed 23rd September 2015. Verma R., Pulerwitz J., Mahendra V.S., Khandekar S., Singh A. K., Das S. S., Mehra S., Nura A. and Barker G. (2008) Promoting Gender Equity as a Strategy to Reduce HIV Risk and Gender-Based Violence among Young Men in India. Horizons Final Report Population Council, Washington, DC. 2014/06/Promoting-Gender-Equity-as-a-Strategy.pdf Accessed 23rd September 2015.


Introduction The multidisciplinary Jeeva Study (2011–15)2 investigated the role of Dais (traditional midwives) within their environmental, socioeconomic and health services contexts in four remote study sites in India. It aimed to gather a broad base of evidence to challenge the exclusion of Dais from childbirth care in the formal Primary Health Services system under the Government’s NRHM (National Rural Health Mission) programme. One of the study sites was a remote tribal area of Pavra and Bhil Adivasi with a population of 10,021 in 1709 households widely scattered in loose hamlets over steep and hilly terrain (1300 to 1800 metres ASL) in the Dhadgaon Block of the Nandurbar district, Maharashtra. The harsh terrain and poverty of the area posed a severe challenge to the formal health services. Among these people the Dai tradition included both women and men as midwives, respectively known as huarki and huarku. The health and development indicators show this block as the most underdeveloped in the tribal district of Nandurbar. Available vital statistics for 2011–12 in terms of crude Birth Rate (BR, per 1000 population), Infant Mortality Ratio (IMR, per 1000 live births), and Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR, per 100,000 live births) indicate the poor level of development in the study area. Specifically, in our rural study area population, BR was around forty births per 1000 population in the study area, as estimated from the local PHC data as against our field data. For the state of Maharashtra, the official rural birth rate was much lower at 17.4 (Census India 2013). High birth rates are typical in India’s remote tribal areas, always along with high infant mortality. The official IMR figure for rural Nandurbar district was thirty-six in 2009, as reported by the State Bureau of Health Intelligence and Vital Statistics (SBHIVS 2009). For rural Maharashtra state, the IMR figure is thirty (while the urban is seventeen) in 2012, based on HMIS data (National Institute for Transforming India, NITI Aayog 2013).

The role of traditional male midwives in a tribal area


The MMR for Maharashtra state is sixty-one overall, based on 2014 SRS data. We estimate that the real figure at that time for this remote part of Nandurbar district would be at least twice as great. These figures indicate the combination of high fertility, high infant mortality and high maternal mortality in this almost entirely tribal population. They reflect the grim reality in which the male and female traditional midwives, the huarka, have been working with virtually no backup from the formal health services until recently. Most births are still handled at home, although institutional births have been increasing slowly. Under-nutrition and anaemia underlie women’s health concerns. Moreover sickle cell disease is endemic here (Kate & Lingojwar, 2002). In India, male Dais are found in tribal areas with steep and difficult terrain.3 Among the 108 Dais identified in this study site, thirty-six (33.3%) were men. Here a huarku (male Dai) often, but not always, works in a jordi or pair with a huarki (female Dai). In studying their role in childbirth care, we sought to distinguish their respective caregiving styles and relations with birthing women and the others around them. Of 30 sampled Dais who gave serial in-depth interviews, twentythree were huarki (female Dais) and seven were huarku (male Dais). It is important to recognise the Dais’ actual roles, their rootedness in their communities and their relevance even today. Although male Dais were not a particular focus of the study, in this paper we look at the work of the huarku in relation to the huarki in both contexts of their communities and of the wider public health services. Literature on male midwives is scant, especially from a public health viewpoint. Meghalaya’s Khasi ‘mid-husbands’ work in the hills of India’s North-East is described (Bhuyan 2011) and the female and male Dais of Navapur block in Nandurbar district find brief mention (Tribhuwan & Sherry 2004). Reports from Africa (Chilumba 2010) and France (Charrier 2010) are concerned with trained male midwives following modern western midwifery standards. A volume about the rise of ‘male-midwifery’ in England portrays how men took over ‘midwifery’ from women as part of the history of modern gynaecology (Wilson 1995). Two other references are relevant to understanding the Dai tradition as studied here: a monograph on ‘Dais as ritual practitioners’ (Chawla 1994) and an article elucidating the resonance of Dai traditions with concepts in Ayurveda (Singh 2005).

Methodology The multidisciplinary Jeeva study interlinked qualitative and quantitative research methods. The study villages were selected within an area covered by two PHCs with a population of 10,121. The four research teams stationed in the field for two and a half years each had two research associates, two local assistants and two community link persons. Aside from continuous field observation, the work included a systematic random sample survey of 33.3% of households (569) and follow-up surveys of retrospective and prospective births (245) in the sampled households. Thus both elder and younger women in the communities were interviewed. The Dais were identified and listed through: (a) village profiling,


Sneha Baldeo Makkad and Mira Sadgopal

(b) 33% sample household survey, (c) retrospective birthing experience survey and (d) old lists of the concerned PHCs (from earlier Dai-training). The thirty Dais selected for interviews (twenty-three female and seven male) were purposively sampled considering the frequency of mention in surveys, qualitative descriptions of birthing experience and perceptions of women. Cross-tracking between surveyed births and some Dais’ birth descriptions was done. Serial semi-structured, open-ended in-depth interviews (two or three) were carried out with the selected Dais, including their backgrounds and ways of learning, childbirth handling experiences, particular skills and knowledge, experience with government providers and facilities, and so on. Also forty other providers involved in maternal care were engaged in a structured interview with openended questions on their views about Dais and their experiences with them. These were comprised of both government providers (ASHAs, AWWs, ANMs and PHC MOs) and others (Private Doctors, RMPs and Local Healers).

The study area and people The people lived in eleven villages with ninety-two hamlets widely scattered over steep and precipitous terrain in the Satpura Hills along the massive Narmada River’s south bank. Two tributaries wound between the hills and became raging torrents during the four-month rainy season, totally cutting off parts from any primary health services. Due to the past century’s exploitation of timber, the hills were deforested, but various medicinal plants were found at higher and lower reaches. The population was made up of two tribal (ST) communities, the Pavras (70%) predominating over the more remote hill-bound Bhils (29%), with a small SC community of Parmars (