Research on violence against women and masculinities being conducted in Aceh

In Aceh, Partners for Prevention and the local UNIFEM office are supporting research that seeks to create a deeper understanding of the social structures, norms, attitudes and behaviours that contribute to violence against women. The research will provide a better understanding of healthy and equitable ways manhood can be defined in the Acehnese context, and how men can become partners for violence prevention. In addition, there is very little accurate data on the prevalence, causes and consequences of violence in Aceh. Thus this project aims to address this gap and help inform policy and programs to more effectively prevent violence against women. The research is set in a rapidly changing context, and will shed light on how Aceh’s particular circumstance has impacted on shaping particular notions of masculinity, and how certain gender norms contribute to men’s use of violence. The project also aims to understand the ways in which armed conflict is both a product of and reproduces ideals of masculinity that valorize toughness and promote violence against women. In addition to the impacts of conflict, the project also pays particular attention to the impacts of the tsunami and changing religious discourses on notions of ‘what it means to be a man’. The project, which is part of Partners for Prevention’s “Gender-based Violence and Masculinities Project” in Asia and the Pacific, includes both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. To build the capacity of interviewers who will conduct the qualitative component of the research, a week-long training recently took place in Aceh. Participants included interviewers from Pusat Studi Wanita (PSW) or Center of Women’s Studies at the State Islamic University of Ar-Raniry in Banda Aceh, the research institute that will conduct the survey. Participants were trained on gender, masculinities, life history methodologies, interviewing techniques and the ethics of research on violence against women. The trained interviewers are currently conducting in-depth life history interviews in two post-conflict sites, Aceh Besar and Bireun. The results of this research will be released by the middle of 2011. The “Gender-based Violence and Masculinities Project” in Asia and the Pacific is designed to produce a holistic, evidence-based set of policy and programmatic recommendations for more effective prevention of violence against women, particularly engaging boys and men. In Aceh, the project is being coordinated by UNIFEM in Indonesia. Aceh is one of the five areas (along with Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Papua New Guinea) included in this project.

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