Engaging Asian Men

In their introduction to a multi-country study on men and gender violence in Asia and the Pacific, the authors write: The elimination of harmful gender norms and practices can be achieved through the engagement of men and boys. (…) Ending violence against women requires coherent policies and programmes that emphasize gender equality as non-negotiable and the transformation of social norms.

The notion of ‘engaging men and boys’ has come to mean a lot of things, from men’s role in the anti-domestic violence movement to approaches that range from bystander engagement to tertiary prevention. Because sociocultural differences influence how patriarchy is enforced, how hetero-normative masculinity is defined, and how women’s self-determination is expressed or controlled, these very contexts also influence what engaging men means.

Engaging men starts with confronting perpetration: What are men in Asia & the Pacific reporting about their use of violence against women?

A study of 10,000 men and 3,000 women in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Sri Lanka confirm Asian and Pacific Islander women’s experiences of victimization. Findings show the following rates of:

Lifetime physical and sexual partner abuse

  • 26% – 80% of ever-partnered men reported perpetrating physical and/or sexual partner violence
  • 25% - 68% of ever-partnered women reported experiencing physical and/or sexual partner violence in their lifetime
  • Lifetime physical partner violence perpetration was more common than lifetime sexual partner violence perpetration; except in Cambodia and Indonesia where the reverse was true

Rape against women and girls

  • 10-62% of men reported that they had perpetrated rape against a woman or girl in their lifetime.
  • Half of all men who perpetrated rape did so for the first time when they were teenagers (younger than 20 years).
  • Rape of an intimate partner was more common than non-partner rape
  • The most commonly reported motivation for rape was men’s sense of sexual entitlement.
Fulu, E., Warner, X., Miedema, S., Jewkes, R., Roselli, T. and Lang, J. (2013). Why Do Some Men Use Violence Against Women and How Can We Prevent It? Quantitative Findings from the United Nations Multi-country Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific. Bangkok: UNDP, UNFPA, UN Women and UNV.

Engaging men to be agents of change means investing in gender democracy

The theme of investing in something meaningful, gender equality, and divesting from something harmful, the practices of gender violence, introduces a fresh dynamic into the debates about engaging men. The API Institute convened advocates, activists and researchers addressing domestic and sexual violence, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and gender equality to examine the complexities of analysis, strategy and community. We invite you to join us in Engaging Asian Men: Divesting from Gender Violence; Investing in Gender Equality.

Engaging men requires strategies for the inter-generational transfer of care-giving:

  • Divest from messages that conflict is resolved by violenceDivest from messages that conflict is resolved by violence
  • Divest from traditional gender roles in the division of household and emotional labor
  • Divest and challenge constricted notions of Asian masculinities
  • Divest from the inter-generational transfer of violence
  • Divest from cultures of patriarchy upheld by both women and men
  • Invest in acknowledging the violence in boys and men’s lives and spaces to explore the impact on men
  • Invest in understanding what motivates men’s behavior changes
  • Invest in engaging men to be partners in women’s empowerment
  • Invest in showing how love and care are foundational to equality
  • Invest in messaging that it’s ok to get help
  • Invest in new narratives of masculinity
  • Invest in the inter-generational transfer of care-giving.

Engaging men has to mean a commitment by men.

A commitment to dismantle the cultures of violence they have built. A commitment to confronting gender injustice. A commitment to masculinities that make gender democracy and parity, not gender violence, normative. A commitment to engage in the inter-generational transfer of care-giving. A commitment to putting love at the epicenter of values.