Masculinity and Gender-Based Violence in Rwanda

The Potential Contribution of Community-Based Strategies to Make a Change
  • Henny Slegh
  • Annemiek Richters


This chapter starts with presenting a study carried out in Rwanda in 2010 on the prevailing perceptions of masculinity throughout the country that justify the use of violence against women. Some of the study’s findings are that social constructions of masculinities in Rwanda are associated with deep-rooted beliefs about the natural power of men over women; that the exposure to and involvement with violence during childhood, war, and genocide has a significant impact on the use of violence by adult men against their female partners; and that the recently implemented gender laws and policies and the campaigning for gender equality at all levels of society are not sufficient to effectively reduce genderbased violence. One of the study’s recommendations is that for a real change to take place, bottom-up strategies need to be developed and implemented with the involvement of men, women, boys, and girls from all strata of society. In the second part of the paper, we illustrate with examples the potential positive impact of such strategies. The examples are derived from research on the practice and impact of community-based psychosocial programs in Mozambique and Rwanda. The positive changes we identified are the result of constructive interactions, debates, and experimenting with new behavior among participants of peer counseling groups in the safe social spaces that are being created over the course of the group sessions.


Focus Group Discussion Partner Violence Gender Equality Gender Relation Good Neighbour 
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© Jane Freedman 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henny Slegh
  • Annemiek Richters

There are no affiliations available

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