By Cletus Davis
To prevent gender-based violence, Rifka Annisa, a women’s crisis center in Yogyakarta, Indonesia , is reaching out to boys and men in the community through a series of activities.
“In Indonesia, working on issues related to men, masculinities and violence is relatively new,” according to Nur Hasyim, Coordinator of the Men’s Programme Unit for Rifka Annisa, “We wanted to reach out to boys and men, and start working with them on these issues. To do this, we’ve begun to develop different strategies– first, by creating spaces for boys and men to talk about these issues, and then, giving them something to do through events and activities.”
One of the “spaces” created by Rifka Annisa is the “Gentlemen’s Hotline,” a weekly live radio talk show where listeners can phone in or send an SMS to ask questions and have discussions around daily life and masculinities, gender and violence. Presented in a down-to-earth way, the talk show invites ordinary men – taxi drivers, students, men in gyms, singers and other men in the community – to be a guest on the show. The guests discuss what “being a man” means to them, while Rifka Annisa helps to frame or analyze the issues in the context of masculinity issues, as callers join in the discussion.
Rifka Annisa has also held various events targeting boys and men. A rally on “men opposed to violence against women (VAW)” was held, in which public figures – religious leaders, artists, the local governor, and mayor (mostly men) – were invited to support the rally. The public figures gave statements on their support against VAW, and their photos and statements were made into posters for the rally.
Another activity aimed at young men was a futsal (soccer) competition to show that “real boys care about others.” The rules of the futsal match were altered to demonstrate anti-violent behavior – for example, if team members had a fight they apologized to each other, demonstrating anti-violence and equality. The winning teams were judged not only by which had the most goals, but also on their demonstration of anti-violent behavior and fair play.
An English debate competition, a popular activity with Indonesian students, also targeted youth. Teams were given topics related to gender for a debate. Students enthusiastically studied various aspects of the topics in preparation for the debate.
Another popular event was the “Pram March,” in which men wearing aprons, pushing prams and donning umbrellas with positive messages written on them took part in a march through the streets of Yogyakarta to raise awareness on antiviolence and respect for women. The march aimed to help build a new image of men – men who are valued for their supportive and egalitarian behavior toward their families.