Violence Against Women

Women Rally Against ‘Eve Teasing’ in S Asia

Wed, 03/02/2011
The Daily Times

Agence France Presse reports on South Asian activists rising up against “eve-teasing” – a term used to refer to the sexual harassment of women. ICRW’s Madhumita Das is quoted in the story, which appeared in several South Asian publications, including Pakistan's The Daily Times.

Parivartan Launches New Campaign

Interactive Campaign Reaches Wider Audience
Tue, 02/01/2011

ICRW’s Parivartan program begins an interactive, mobile campaign to spread messages about non-violence and gender equality to youth in Mumbai.

ICRW’s Parivartan program begins an interactive, mobile campaign to spread messages about non-violence and gender equality to youth in Mumbai.

Mumbai students show off a comic book they received after participating in Parivartan’s mobile van campaign.

MUMBAI, India – The International Center for Research on Women’s (ICRW) Parivartan program – which works with young cricket players in India to reduce violence against women – this month launched a mobile, interactive campaign to further promote the core principles of Parivartan.

Led by ICRW partner organization Breakthrough, and done in collaboration with the U.S.-based Futures Without Violence, formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund, the campaign uses sports, dance, skits, trivia and video to educate youth how to stop and prevent “eve teasing” of women and girls. Eve teasing refers to when men and boys sexually harass women and girls in public places – either with words or inappropriate touching. The main messages of the campaign are that eve teasing is wrong, it must stop and that respecting women and girls “is the mark of a true star.”

The new initiative runs through Feb. 13, and features a van that travels to several neighborhoods and schools throughout Mumbai to hold 30 to 45 minute shows. Specifically, the campaign features a short street play on the ill effects of eve teasing, a cricket trivia quiz, interactive games with prizes and discussions. Participants also view a video about the Parivartan program.

An emcee talks to students about why it’s wrong to harass girls.

“A mobile van is a fun and very powerful way to convey Parivartan’s messages to a wider audience within our target population,” said ICRW’s Madhumita Das, a senior technical specialist who manages Parivartan. “The campaign also gives us an opportunity to showcase the coaches and athletes who have been a part of the initiative since the beginning.”

So far, about 3,000 boys and girls as well as principals and teachers in 15 schools have participated in the van's interactive sessions, Das said. 

ICRW and its partners conceptualized Parivartan in 2008 and launched the intervention portion of the program last year. The effort uses cricket, India’s most popular sport, to teach boys to respect women and girls and help reduce abusive relationships. Modeled in part after the Futures Without Violence's "Coaching Boys into Men" program, Parivartan works with cricket coaches and community mentors to push messages against violence and for gender equality. The program is being implemented in 25 schools by the Mumbai School Sports Association and in community-based cricket programs by Apnalaya, an organization in Mumbai’s Shivaji Nagar community.

ICRW researchers are currently analyzing data gathered halfway through Parivartan to assess the program’s effectiveness. An evaluation of the campaign will begin in May, Das said.

“We have joined hands with Parivartan for a good cause,” said Iqbal Thakur, a Parivartan coach from Anjuman I- Islam English High school in south Mumbai, who attended the campaign launch. “Eve teasing happens, but if children are exposed to the correct messages at an early age, they are more likely to grow up into dignified, responsible citizens, who not only stay away from such behavior, but also become role models who raise their voice against injustice.”

Chandni Malik is the communications manager in ICRW’s Asia Regional Office.

Related Multimedia:

Sachin Endorses Campaign Against Eve Teasing

Fri, 01/28/2011
Hindustan Times

The Hindustan Times reports on ICRW’s Parivartan program, which focuses on reducing violence against women and is championed by Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.

Wife-beating Diplomat Shames Nation

The Anil Verma Case Exposes the Extent to which India Condones Domestic Abuse
Wed, 01/26/2011

GlobalPost examines India’s complicated relationship with and often tolerance for domestic violence, and quotes ICRW’s Madhumita Das, senior technical specialist in the Asia Regional Office.

Men and Violence: Risk Factors Vary

Survey Highlights Risks Tied to Men’s Use of Violence Against Women
Tue, 01/25/2011

ICRW study provides insight into men’s use of violence against women and factors associated with it.

An analysis of new findings from the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) affirms that an integrated approach – one that experts say should aim to prevent violence by addressing men's risk factors – is key to reducing men's use of violence against women.

Initial findings from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) – to be released today – illustrate the varied experiences that lead some men to physically or sexually abuse an intimate female partner. The three-year study consisted of nearly 12,000 interviews with men and women ages 18 to 59 in Brazil, Chile, Croatia, India, Mexico and Rwanda about their health practices, parenting, relationship dynamics, sexual behavior and use of violence.

Researchers crafted the questions about violence based on existing data on the correlation between men’s use of violence, their experiences with it during childhood and social norms that dictate how they should act. While there have been numerous studies on men and violence, IMAGES provides a deeper look at factors associated with why some men are violent against women. Researchers asked men detailed questions about their experiences with violence as an observer and perpetrator. Women were interviewed on the matter, too.

“There are numerous social and cultural factors that contribute to men’s use of violence,” said ICRW’s Gary Barker, lead researcher on IMAGES. “Our methodology on IMAGES allowed us to explore a broad range of these with men and compare men’s responses with women’s from the same settings. This gave us a more accurate assessment of the factors and extent of violence.”

Experts say programs and policies that work to end violence against women could be more effective by understanding how some men view violence and the sometimes invisible social factors that drive their behavior.

“To truly reduce violence, program designers and policy makers should consider how to create more comprehensive interventions that take into account such things as men’s attitudes about gender, their childhood experiences of violence, their work-related stress and their use of alcohol,” said Barker, who in February will become international director of Instituto Promundo, a Brazilian nongovernmental organization that coordinates the Men and Gender Equality Policy Project with ICRW. IMAGES is a component of this project.

Contributing factors

To measure men’s use of violence against a partner, IMAGES applied a slightly modified version of the approach used in a pioneering 2005 World Health Organization (WHO) study on domestic violence. The 10-country study yielded some of the first comprehensive, multi-site data on the various forms of violence women experience at the hands of a male partner and its consequences. Ten to 70 percent of women surveyed said they had been physically abused by an intimate partner at some point in their lives.

For IMAGES, researchers asked men about specific types of violence, such as slapping, against their female partners. Women also were asked about their experiences with the same forms of violence. Between 25 to nearly 40 percent of the men surveyed said they had been violent with an intimate partner. Meanwhile, 27 to 41 percent of women said they had been abused by a man at least once in their lives, suggesting that in most cases, men’s reports of the violence they used were fairly accurate.

IMAGES results across all countries also showed that men who generally view themselves as superior to women are more likely to report physical and sexual violence against an intimate partner. The same was true for men who abused alcohol, witnessed violence in their childhood home and, except for Mexicans surveyed, those who felt stressed about work or income. Rwandan men were not asked about work stress.

“The IMAGES findings make an important contribution to existing knowledge about gender-based violence by bringing in men's perspectives about their experiences of violence in diverse settings, as well as their attitudes about women’s rights and roles within the household," said ICRW's Mary Ellsberg, vice president of research and programs and co-author of the WHO domestic violence study. "We hope to do additional analysis of the data in the future, to compare the experiences and attitudes of both men and women around these issues."

Laws about violence

Many governments worldwide are increasingly adopting legislation to combat violence against women. It’s the policy issue that has received the most attention in efforts, including by ICRW, to involve men in creating more equitable societies. And, IMAGES found it’s the issue most men have heard about, either through an advertisement or campaign.

Between 88 and 96 percent of men surveyed said they knew about laws related to violence against women in their countries, however this does not correlate with a decrease in their use of violence against their wives or girlfriends. IMAGES also shows the contradictory attitudes men have about existing laws related to violence: Despite their knowledge of the laws, the vast majority of men also thinks the laws make it too easy to bring charges against them.

“Given the relatively small number of men actually charged under those laws in all the countries, this opinion is a misperception,” Barker said. He added that IMAGES results suggest that some men don’t understand anti-violence policies and may see the laws as being against them. “We may need more long-term, nuanced public education targeting men about the laws."

Far fewer men surveyed for IMAGES reported hearing messages about other themes that might interest them, or that they might perceive as positive, such as promoting that men participate in care giving and be more involved fathers.

“While we can’t let men off the hook in terms of violence, we also need to consider the source of men’s violence,” Barker said. “Our policies need to understand these factors and design prevention strategies accordingly.”

Gillian Gaynair is ICRW’s writer/editor.

International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES)

International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES)

International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and Instituto Promundo

The International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) is a comprehensive household questionnaire on men’s attitudes and practices – along with women’s opinions and reports of men’s practices – on a wide variety of topics related to gender equality.

Topics include: gender-based violence; health and health-related practices; household division of labor; men’s participation in caregiving and as fathers; men’s and women’s attitudes about gender and gender-related policies; transactional sex; men’s reports of criminal behavior; and quality of life.

From 2009 to 2010, household surveys were administered to more than 8,000 men and 3,500 women ages 18-59 in Brazil, Chile, Croatia, India, Mexico and Rwanda. The report, Evolving Men: Initial Results of the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES), summarizes these initial multi-country comparative findings.

IMAGES is a component of the Men and Gender Equality Policy Project coordinated by ICRW and Instituto Promundo.

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Men at Work: Stress Linked to Harmful Practices

Survey Shows Men’s Frustrations about Work Creates Vulnerabilities
Tue, 01/18/2011

While the traditional role of men as sole income providers is rapidly changing, policies and programs can do more to understand and address men’s experiences.

New findings on men’s attitudes and practices from the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) show that men who regularly experience stress over not having enough work or income are more likely to be involved in criminal activity, have suicidal thoughts and use violence, including violence against women. And although the majority of these men were unemployed or underemployed, substantial numbers of men with stable employment also reported similar stress.

The initial findings emerge from an analysis of the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES), a three-year, multi-country study conducted among men and women ages 18 to 59. The gender attitudes survey covered health practices, parenting, relationship dynamics, sexual behavior and use of violence. Questions about work-related stress were asked of men in urban settings in Brazil, Chile, Croatia, India and Mexico. Overall, between 34 percent (Brazil) and 88 percent (Mexico) of men experienced stress or depression about not having enough work or income.

ICRW experts say the data illustrate the need for policies and programs to address men’s experiences, including how they internalize societal expectations of work and their role as primary income providers. This, they say, is particularly important in the midst of a global recession that has devastated industries traditionally dominated by men and as women enter the workforce in unprecedented numbers.

“Across cultures, men commonly derive their identities from work and the social expectation that they are providers,” said ICRW’s Gary Barker, lead researcher of the analysis. “But the idea that men are sole breadwinners is increasingly unrealistic in today’s societies.”

Work stress links to harmful practices

IMAGES aimed to understand men’s perceptions of their socio-economic situation by going beyond basic questions about their employment status and household income. All men interviewed were asked if they felt stressed or depressed about not having enough work or income. 

Researchers found that men across the spectrum of employment status and income level reported experiencing this stress in large numbers. While unemployed men and low-income earners are more likely to report this stress in most countries, IMAGES data affirm that the experience of feeling pressure to work and earn more does not disappear when men hold stable jobs or earn comparatively high salaries. Furthermore, these experiences have important effects on the lives of men and their families.   

“What we found was that the shame and frustration men feel about a lack of work or income – perceived or real – creates vulnerabilities for men and those around them,” Barker said.

Indeed, results show clear associations between men’s reported stress and harmful practices such as violence against female partners, criminal behavior and suicidal thoughts. Among men in four countries – Chile, Croatia, India and Mexico – reports of economic stress were associated at statistically significant levels with committing physical violence against a female partner.

Other trends in the data, to be released on Jan. 26, show that work stress also was linked to sexual violence, transactional sex and criminal activity. And in all five countries, men who experienced work-related stress considered suicide far more often than other male peers who did not express stress over work or income.

Among unemployed men, between 35 percent (Brazil) and 77 percent (India) said they were ashamed to face their family, considered leaving their family or stayed away from their family because they were out of work. At the same time, unemployed men were much more likely to report being involved in the daily care of children, suggesting that some men are carrying out such activities even if they may not be finding a sense of identity in this role.

Interestingly, even among men who say their work situation is mostly stable, 26 percent (Brazil) to 91 percent (Mexico) say they frequently feel such stress.

“The fact that so many men reported experiences of stress and depression related to work and income, including those with permanent, high-paying jobs, underscores the widespread influence of the ‘man as primary financial provider’ norm,” said ICRW’s Manuel Contreras, a gender and public health specialist who co-authored the report.

Changing the norms

ICRW experts say the IMAGES findings echo previous research on how restrictive definitions of manhood, especially those tied to the primary financial provider role, have negative influences on communities, families and men themselves.

“IMAGES is among the first studies to test the influence of work stress across broad categories of men’s attitudes and behaviors,” said Brian Heilman, a program associate at ICRW who helped analyze the IMAGES data and is a co-author of the report. “We hope that its findings will prompt additional research on the power of this norm.”

Meanwhile, ICRW experts say policies that reflect the gendered realities of both women and men will help spur change. Barker said this is particularly timely, as traditional gender roles are shifting in many countries: more women are working outside the home and more men are becoming active in family life. These shifts have the potential to yield societal benefits. IMAGES data also showed that men who take on more traditionally feminine roles such as domestic duties and child rearing were also less likely to use violence against a partner, and their partners were generally more satisfied in their relationships with the men.   

Paternity leave is one such example of a policy that can help change society’s views of men as solely providers by offering incentives for men to become more involved in their children’s lives. For example, generous leave policies in Denmark, Norway and Iceland have been shown to have a striking impact on gender roles, paternal bonds with young children and lower divorce rates. IMAGES found about 37 percent of men in six study countries (including Rwanda) took some type of paternity leave but for far less than the length of time allowed by national policies, which were generally limited. Younger men and men with more education were more likely to take leave.  

Policies to engage men in prenatal care and childbirth are other ways to promote men’s sense of connection to their children.  IMAGES data from Chile showed that more than 90 percent of the younger generation of fathers were present in the delivery room of their last child, largely a result of a national health policy to “humanize” the birth process.

“Change is happening, more slowly in some places than others, but it is happening” said Barker. “It’s an important reminder that norms about what it means to be a man or woman can – and do – change. Further analysis of these results will help us understand more about how such change happens and how it might be sped up with appropriate policies.”

* Next week: IMAGES findings on factors associated with violence against women.

Sandy Won is ICRW's strategic communications manager.

Legislative Challenges Ahead for Development

Child Marriage, Other Issues, Likely to be Scrutinized in 2011 US Congress
Wed, 01/05/2011

The U.S. budget deficit and anticipated cuts to foreign aid are expected to affect movement on international development legislation.

With concerns about a mounting budget deficit and anticipated cuts to investments in foreign affairs, legislation aimed at international development issues will likely face challenges in the 112th session of the United States Congress that starts today. This includes efforts geared toward bettering the lives of marginalized women and girls worldwide.

Although the Obama administration has committed to empower women and girls as part of an overall push to improve development programs, officials over the next two years will need to secure stronger Congressional support – through legislation and funding – to turn pledges into programs.

“Investing in women and girls as part of an overall strategy to improve the efficiency of foreign assistance could form the foundation of compromise both within and between Congress and the administration,” said Dan Martin, senior advocacy specialist at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). “Reducing poverty and defending human rights are not partisan issues. We hope Congress can find common ground in these efforts.”

The political landscape transformed on Nov. 2, when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives with a net gain of 63 seats, and Democrats retained a slim majority in the Senate. While committee leadership in the Senate remains unchanged, House leadership of key foreign affairs committees shifted dramatically.

Meanwhile, the economic crisis of 2008 continues to affect the federal budget, putting foreign assistance accounts at risk for reductions. Senior members of Congress, including incoming House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, said they intend to cut funding from the U.S. Department of State and the Agency for International Development (USAID), the two agencies primarily responsible for conducting global development programs.

According to the State Department, foreign aid represents 1 percent of the federal budget. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has prioritized women and girls as part of her larger efforts to improve the effectiveness of U.S. development dollars, saying “investing in the potential of the world’s women and girls is one of the surest ways to achieve global economic progress, political stability and greater prosperity.”

Indeed, leaders from the legislative and executive branches of the government are recognizing that women and girls are integral to activities abroad. But Congress took few concrete legislative actions in 2010 to back up that notion: Legislation aimed at preventing child marriage failed to pass into law. So did a bill meant to help reduce violence against women worldwide. Meanwhile, Congressional action in late December to fund the federal government through March 2011 meant that foreign assistance funding would see no increases in the near future.

In the midst of anticipated challenges ahead, ICRW experts will continue to educate members of Congress and key administration officials about specific actions that can be taken to improve gender equality and fight poverty worldwide. To that end, ICRW will work on the following issues in the 112th Congress:

Prevention of Child Marriage

Child marriage, most common in poor, rural communities, has devastating consequences for young girls around the world and, as ICRW research has shown, further perpetuates the cycle of poverty. By helping girls to stay in school longer and preventing health risks associated with early childbearing, combating child marriage could increase the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance dollars – and give millions of girls a better chance to live full, healthy lives.

Senators on Dec. 1 unanimously approved the “International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act,” legislation aimed at curbing this harmful traditional practice. However, despite significant bipartisan support, it failed in the House to pass into law.

“We made great progress over the last two years, and ICRW fully intends to use that momentum to bring this issue forward again in 2011,” said ICRW President Sarah Degnan Kambou. “We need to work with key stakeholders, including those that led the effort to defeat the bill last year, to find the nexus between good policy and good politics.”

Integrating Women into International Agricultural Development Programs

President Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative to increase U.S. investment in agricultural development, particularly through small-scale farmers, strives to help reduce hunger and poverty worldwide. Through this initiative, the administration commits to boosting productivity and incomes by ensuring that women and men farmers have equal access to resources.

Congressional leaders in 2010 provided much-needed funding for international agricultural development. However, in the current budget climate, future funding for these programs will likely face scrutiny.

“The Obama administration must do a better job of communicating to Congress what Feed the Future is, how it serves American interests, and why the requested funding levels are necessary,” said David Kauck, ICRW’s senior gender and agricultural specialist. “Consistent U.S. investment in international agricultural development will enable farmers to increase their income, reduce hunger and malnutrition and contribute to overall economic growth.”

Violence against Women

Nearly one in three women around the world will face violence in her lifetime, and certain regions of the world have even higher rates. The U.S. continues to fund programs to address gender-based violence globally, even increasing investment in some areas, such as to further explore the link between HIV and violence. The “International Violence Against Women Act” (IVAWA) was first introduced in 2008 and reintroduced in 2010 to foster a more comprehensive, coordinated approach that supporters of the legislation, including ICRW, believed would be more effective and fiscally responsible. 

The bill received unprecedented attention as the subject of multiple Congressional hearings and debates. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed IVAWA on Dec. 14, however the Congressional calendar did not allow time for a full Senate vote on the legislation.

ICRW experts say IVAWA provides the U.S. an opportunity to become a worldwide leader in a comprehensive approach to reducing violence against women. “Reducing violence against women will have a double dividend,” said Mary Ellsberg, ICRW’s vice president of research and programs and an expert on in issues related to gender-based violence. “It will help end a gross human rights violation, and give women more opportunities to realize their full educational, economic and social potential, which will ultimately lead to more stable and prosperous societies.”

Foreign Assistance Reform

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 is the governing document of most U.S. international assistance. However, in the context of today’s development issues, many deem the act to be outdated.

Several attempts by legislators to modernize U.S. foreign assistance in 2010 were met with limited success. The Obama administration, however, is moving forward on two fronts to keep pace with the changing times, especially as it relates to further integrating women into foreign assistance programs:

The first one is through President Obama's “Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development", which was released last year and further clarified his commitment to empowering women and girls as well as integrating gender throughout all development programs. “We’re investing in the health, education and rights of women…” Obama said during the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit in September 2010, “because when mothers and daughters have access to opportunities, economies grow and governance improves.”

Second, the State Department last month released the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which pledges to “integrate gender issues into policies and practices at the State Department and USAID.” The QDDR will serve as a blueprint of reforms to be implemented at State and USAID, starting in January 2011, to make foreign assistance more effective.

“In order to make these executive-level commitments permanent, Congress needs to pass legislation to reform the Foreign Assistance Act,” Martin said. “And to do that, administration officials will have to reach out to counterparts on the Hill to find common ground.”

Roxanne Stachowski is ICRW's external relations associate.

Commentary: More Needed to Prevent Violence

Wed, 12/08/2010

The social change needed to prevent violence against women requires long-term, systematic engagement of communities, institutions and decision-makers. But we need much greater investments to achieve this, both in developing and testing innovative approaches for preventing violence. And we must find ways to expand programs proven to work.

We’ve learned many lessons over two decades of sustained effort to draw international attention to gender-based violence as a serious human rights, public health and development issue. But perhaps the most important one is that transforming laws and policies to provide women access to justice and protection from violence is only a first step to reducing gender-based violence globally. We need much greater investments, both in developing and testing innovative approaches for preventing violence. And we must find ways to expand programs proven to work.

An activist with the Uganda-based SASA

An activist (center) with the Uganda-based SASA! program engages a group of men in a discussion about what causes violence in a family. Photo: ©Mary Ellsberg/ICRW

The social change needed to prevent violence against women requires long-term, systematic engagement of communities, institutions and decision-makers. More than 25 years of experience in the field has shown us that individual “awareness-raising” workshops or campaigns are rarely effective in changing people’s attitudes or behavior. And although gender-based violence prevention is still an emerging field, we have many strong examples of innovative programs that show promising results in changing social norms.  

One such program was developed by the Uganda-based organization Raising Voices and is called “SASA!” Taking place in at least 10 African countries, SASA! emphasizes prevention by focusing on the benefits of non-violence and gender equity to both men and women. It also supports a deeper analysis of the impact of violence and the underlying causes of gender inequality. For instance, SASA! addresses how violence not only hurts women, but also reduces trust and respect among family members. And the program stresses that violence doesn’t arise out of anger, but because of an imbalance of power between men and women in a family.

Another pioneering approach uses entertainment to raise awareness on important social issues, including violence against women. Internationally, this type of work is known as “education entertainment” or “edutainment.” Evaluations of internationally-acclaimed edutainment programs, such as the award winning “Sexto Sentido,” a Central American soap opera that addresses violence, stigma and HIV through the experiences of a group of Nicaraguan young men and women.  Another example is the acclaimed “Bel Bajao” campaign in India. TV campaigns for Bel Bajao, which means “ring the bell,” urge men and boys to take action against domestic violence in their communities. Both efforts have shown that multimedia programs can help transform attitudes toward gender and violence. They achieve this by providing role models with which audiences can identify who are dealing with everyday problems in new ways. 

Prevention programs and policies over the years also have taught us that women alone cannot end gender-based violence. It’s critical that we engage men and boys as allies in the effort. And again, we have examples of innovative approaches to this, including “Program H,” developed by the Brazilian non-governmental organization, Promundo; or the “One Man Can Campaign” of the Sonke Gender Justice Center in South Africa. These efforts involve men and boys in open discussions about violence and masculinity. They also encourage them to develop new ways of relating with women and girls based on solidarity, cooperation and fairness rather than domination and control.  

Although there is no “one size fits all” solution for ending gender-based violence, these programs have shown that individuals and communities can change and that improving gender equality is an essential part of preventing violence.

What’s required now is sustained political commitment and resources to act on these lessons.

Mary Ellsberg is the vice president of research and programs at ICRW.

The End of Violence

Thu, 12/02/2010
World Pulse

World Pulse talks to key experts to determine the way forward. ICRW’s Mary Ellsberg, vice president of research and programs, notes that despite more legislation that criminalizes gender-based violence, more is needed to ensure laws are enforced on the ground. And Ravi Verma, ICRW’s regional director in Asia, discusses the importance of positioning violence against women as a critical health and development issue.

World Pulse's online version does not include the full story.

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