Indonesia’s Rivaldo scores for a violence-free future
Like the international football star he’s named after, Rivaldo Taime (13) was born poor, with a rough childhood.
In Jayapura, West Papua, Rivaldo’s hometown in Indonesia’s most far-eastern province, jobs are scarce, infrastructure and services are weak, and many still live in poverty.
Across much of West Papua, traditional attitudes towards family and gender-roles dictate, and in many families, the eldest sons like Rivaldo are expected to play ‘man of the house’ when the father is away.
Yet for Rivaldo, this took on a harsher meaning, as he was often forced to shield his brother when their dad returned home in one of his whiskey-fuelled rages.
“He used to drink all the time,” recalls Emma (42), Rivaldo’s mother. “He would get home, yell at my children and smash things up.”
“Of course, my husband and my boys weren’t close. They barely even talked,” she adds.
In West Papua, according to the United Nations Multi Country Study on Men and Violence, over 40% of all women and children have suffered violence, and over 33 per cent of women between the ages of 15 and 64 experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes.
Despite the challenges in his environment, like the Brazilian footballing legend, the shy, quiet boy didn’t give in.
Frightened and forced to grow up fast, Rivaldo reached out for help through friends, and eventually, found a local group that works to tackle violence in the community.
Implemented by the International Planned Parenthood Federation of Papua (PKBI), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Women, United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, and the Institute for the Study and Empowerment of Women and Children (LP3A) with support from Partners for Prevention(P4P), the support group that Rivaldo contacted looks deeply at the beliefs and norms that fuel violence against women, through participatory workshops including lessons, games, discussions and role-plays.
Alongside adolescents, the group also works with caregivers and community and religious leaders to help spread the word and prevent violence before it starts.
“We learnt about emotional, physical and sexual violence,” says Rivaldo. “I also learnt how to calm people down, not to goad them or take them on. This helps us stop violence.”
Rivaldo has finally convinced his dad to join the group sessions with him, and while there remain several problems to be addressed, according to Rivaldo’s mother, it’s now getting better for everyone.
“My husband still drinks sometimes,” she explains, “but at least now he comes in quietly.”
“After [my husband] joined the programme, [my husband and Rivaldo] share more. They’re much closer and they sit down together and talk things through.”
According to the UNMCS findings, most perpetrators of sexual violence in the region begin during adolescence, with over 60% of first time offenders of sexual violence being under the age of 19.
“By helping young people and others in the community talk openly about relationships between men and women, along with sexual and reproductive health and consent, we’re giving them the tools they need to build happy and rewarding relationships for the future,” explains Grace Temongmere, a UN National Volunteer in Jayapura.
“My daughter used to hide all sorts of things from me,” says Martina (41) at a group session for caregivers at a Jayapura community centre.
“But here we learn to talk to each other openly, equally as friends, and she shares far more now - about problems at school, about boys and growing up.”
Budi Astuti (41) became a group facilitator after solving a problem with violence in her own family.
“The programme looks at gender issues, including gender-based violence, and also how that links up with the risk of HIV. How all are connected was interesting for me. But the most important thing was that, by working with other facilitators, by sharing our experiences and what we learnt, I saw my situation differently and changed my own life.”
“Over 14 months, this project has reached 131 adolescents and over 130 caregivers,” explains Michiyo Yamada, manager of the Partners for Prevention programme.
“By empowering girls, young people and families to communicate more effectively, we’re transforming the negative gender-related beliefs that fuel violence against women and girls, and so stopping violence before it even starts.”
According to Yamada, even though the project is winding down, local governments, community leaders and volunteers are determined to keep the programme going, showing a clear organic response that intends to continue making significant changes to entrenched harmful gender norms and in preventing violence against women and girls.
About Partners for Prevention:
Partners for Prevention (P4P) is a United Nations (UN) joint programme working to prevent violence against women and girls in Asia and the Pacific. Based on its ground-breaking research, the UN Multi-Country Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific (2013), P4P promotes and supports violence prevention initiatives and policies. Combining the strengths of four UN agencies – UN Development Programme, UN Population Fund, UN Women and UN Volunteers – with governments, civil society, and support from the Australian government, P4P programmes transform social norms and practices to prevent violence before it occurs. P4P’s work supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls by 2030.