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Kaufman, Michael
Co-Chair and International Director, White Ribbon Campaign, Toronto, Canada

Bonino, Luis
Director del Centro de Estudios de la Condición Masculina, Madrid, Spain

Workshop abstract

The growing recognition of the virtual pandemic of men’s violence against women around the world has, unfortunately, not been accompanied by the development of adequate strategies to end the violence. Given the complexity of the problem, strategies by definition are multi-dimensional, ranging from legislative change and better police and judicial responses, to support services for women, to programs that work with men who use violence, to public education. Singularly absent from many approaches, however, has been the type of nuanced understanding of the violence itself. Such an understanding will help us to develop more effective strategies. This session focuses on the general parameters of such an analysis and its strategic implications. In particular, we will examine those aspects of the strategy having to do with actually reaching men: both those men who have colluded with the violence through their silence, and those men who commit the violence in the first place.

IW-1.1.-Strategic planning to end men ´s violence: the White Ribbon Campaign

Kaufman, M.
Co-Chair and International Director, White Ribbon Campaign, Toronto, Canada.

Men’s violence against women and other men results, to a large measure, from a combination of two contradictory sets of factors: On the one hand is men’s relative social power, men’s unconscious sense of entitlement to privilege, and the social acceptance of individual acts of violence.  On the other hand, is what I have called men’s contradictory experiences of power, in particular, feelings of isolation, weakness, insecurity, combined with men’s own experiences, particularly as boys, as witnesses or survivors of violence, plus the limiting definitions and practices of masculinity that forbid expressions of weakness and fear.   In other words, the violence is both an expression of relative social power and enormous fear. This sort of approach forms a basis for the White Ribbon Campaign (WRC), now the largest effort in the world of men working to end violence against women.  Started in Canada in 1991, there are now WRC activities on every continent.  The basic approach is to involve men and boys as allies with women in the struggle to end violence against women.  The assumption is that even in countries where the majority of men do not commit such violence, through our collective silence we’ve allowed the violence to continue. White Ribbon carries out education programs in schools, public awareness campaigns, and interventions in public policy discussions in order to break this silence.  One aspect of the awareness efforts in some countries is wearing or displaying a white ribbon, each year for about a week commencing November 25 (the international day for the eradication of violence against women).  Wearing a ribbon or displaying an image of it is a public pledge by a man never to commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women.  And it is a call on governments and public opinion makers to seriously address this problem. 

IW-1.2.-Preventing maculine domestic violence 

Bonino, L.
Director del Centro de Estudios de la Condición Masculina, Madrid, Spain

In the European Union (EU), where the majority of victims of male violence are women and children, some recommendations have been proposed by the different goverments during the last five years to establish a Plan of Action at domestic, laboral and political levels in order to prevent this problem. Specifically, in domestic violence, the strategies suggested by the EU are centered on the identification and protection of the women and children who are victims of the violence, and the accusation and the sentence of the aggressive men. Furthermore, other important strategies are the education for equality and peace. However, these measures are not the only actions that could or should be carried out. The consideration of domestic violence as a problem caused mainly by men, and as a Public Health issue may allow the establishment of interventions in order to prevent it. For example, nowadays, there are public compaigns that involve males in the struggle against masculine violence. A more difficult task is to sensitize Public Health personel in the identification not only of women victims of domestic violence and the subsequent intervention but also of men that are at risk of being violent. In conclusion, the involvement of different professional sectors, such as the health, legal and educational systems, are necessary in order to solve the problem that masculine violence represents in our present day society.