Sunday, March 17, 2013

Why do men use violence?

At a recent side event at the Commission for the Status of Women, preliminary research that has been collected by a joint project supporting the Partners for Prevention was shared with the assembled audience.  Although, the full report will not be available until July of this year, the data that was presented represents some significant findings about the reasons why men act violently, and helps to identify some possible solutions to help eradicate violence against women in Asia.

The data that was shared has been collected from nine different sites in six countries across Asia.  Over 10 000 men and 2 500 women participated in the study and this effort represents the larges cross country comparable data set on male perpetration of violence against women in the Asia-Pacific region.  The locations that were chosen for the study (China, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea) were specifically included to represent the diverse population in Asia as well as include regions that have recently been affected by conflict.  Sadly, the initial data confirmed much of the information that has been shared by various groups presenting at CSW 57; violence against women is occurring in various locations throughout the world at alarming rates.


Of the men participating in the study, it was determined that:

50 % of the men surveyed had used violence against an intimate female partner in their lifetime
25 % of the men surveyed had raped a woman or girl
4 % of the men surveyed had participated in gang rape

Obviously, the results that were shared are shocking and the study went further to try and ascertain why men choose use violence.  As was noted in the presentation, many men do not use violence.  What behaviors are more likely to lead a man to violent choices in his relationships with women?


Entitlement and Control - men who demonstrated controlling attitudes and less value for women were far more likely to have engaged in violent behaviors

Masculinity - 87 % of men surveyed agreed that men should be tough.  Furthermore, men who were involved in gangs, or war were more likely to have treated women violently.  Men who demonstrated high levels of empathy were less likely to have abused women

Personal experience with violence - If men had experienced violence in their own lives, they were more likely to make violent choices.  For example, men who had been raped by another man were twice as likely to have raped a woman.


Gender Inequality - the prevalence of violence increases as gender inequality increases

Conflict - Sites that were engaged in conflict/post conflict had much higher rates of violence against women

Vulnerability - Men who had little control over their own lives (extreme poverty) engaged in violence more frequently

Although the initial results of this study are extremely shocking, identifying the drivers of violence against women in various areas is a key component of a successful plan to eradicate the issue.  As proposed in the presentation, it is essential that we work to address the structural drivers by reducing vulnerability, increasing equality, addressing the consequences of conflict, and empowering women.  Furthermore, educational and social programs can help with individual drivers by protecting all children from violence in their youth and nurturing healthy attitudes, practices and relationships in our communities.  If we are truly going to be successful, we must work as a collaborative community to help eradicate violence.

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