MenCare+ Brazil organizes workshops with male perpetrators of violence in Rio de Janeiro

A man and woman hold hands.As part of the MenCare+ Brazil project (“+Pai” in Portuguese), Instituto Noos and Equimundo are organizing gender-reflective groups with male perpetrators of violence against intimate partners and women using a responsibility-based approach. Instituto Noos has been working in this field since 1999, seeking to build a culture of peace and promote gender equality.

The methodology of these meetings involves the active participation of men, who, together with the facilitators, define the rules of group coexistence and the topics to address in each meeting. The men seek involvement with Instituto Noos either voluntarily or by court indication, under the Maria da Penha Law on Domestic and Family Violence, to participate in 13 two-hour meetings.

According to Alan Bronz, coordinator of MenCare+ Brazil at Instituto Noos, as the number of men referred by the judicial system has increased, so have the challenges of his job.

“It is harder to work with this new profile of men, because it is a conviction. They arrive feeling victimized, angered, and wronged. To remove them from that place is a challenge, and it is a necessary step to build a more critical stance,” Alan Bronz said.

In order to face these challenges, Instituto Noos has made changes in its methodology, including, for example, the adoption of group facilitation that includes both a man and a woman, rather than relying solely on same-sex group facilitators. For Alan Bronz, this experience may lead men to reconsider the role of women, formerly seen as passive, and help them to relate to women as equals. In addition to this, some subtle aspects of gender inequalities and prejudice can go unnoticed in a conversation mediated only by men.

Since the beginning of its work with men, Instituto Noos has faced difficulties in maintaining the practice of reflective groups due to the limited dissemination of this approach at the national level, and the resistance of some groups and movements that believe that only punitive measures are suitable for men who commit violence against women. With the ratification of the Maria da Penha Law, which includes a provision on working with men, this scenario has been slowly changing and this practice has gained more notoriety and consistency.

The project is monitored and evaluated by Instituto Noos with a specific methodology to detect the profile and type of violence committed, as well as to assess the impact of this intervention in changing attitudes among male participants.

MenCare+, a global initiative

MenCare+ is a global initiative that aims to contribute to men’s involvement in gender-equitable relationships and to their emotional connection with their children, partners, and themselves. Hence, the project develops activities promoting sexual and reproductive health, engaged fatherhood, maternal and child health, prevention of violence against women and children, and intervention approaches for male perpetrators of violence.

The initiative is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and is being implemented in Brazil, Rwanda, South Africa and Indonesia, where it is coordinated by partner organizations.

This post was originally published by Equimundo, MenCare’s co-coordinator.