SEED is delighted to receive funding from the Canadian Government to work with displaced men and boys to combat gender-based violence. Engaging men and boys is proven as an effective strategy for reducing violence against women, and also reducing the violence that men and boys themselves face. Engaging men and boys as both survivors and offenders is essential to reducing gender-based violence.
Women and girls in Iraq face widespread discrimination and a multitude of forms of abuse, including rape, ‘honor’ based violence and killing, sexual harassment, domestic abuse, forced and early marriage, and movement restrictions such as the denial of the right to work. Abuses against women and girls are most commonly perpetrated by men, so it is critical to work with men and boys to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality.
Violence in Iraq has soared in areas of the country taken over by ISIS in 2014. ISIS’ brutality has included the murder, torture, and enslavement of civilians, including thousands of women and girls held in sexual slavery. More than 3 million Iraqis have been displaced since 2014 and sadly, even after fleeing to safer parts of the country, many continue to suffer violence. During displacement, violence against women often increases as people lose their traditional support networks and their sources of income, leaving them more vulnerable, while at the same time the stress of displacement creates tensions in the family and community. SEED is working with men and boys to reduce the occurrence of sexual and other violence against women and girls, and also against other men and boys.
Men and boys are commonly the victims of violence, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, but their suffering is often forgotten. In Iraq, boys and men face a range of abuses as a result of their gender including ‘honor’-based violence and killing, revenge killing due to blood feuds, kidnapping, forced and early marriage, domestic abuse, conscription to armed groups, and child labor, but men and boys at risk have very few places to turn for support. SEED believes that all men and boys deserve to be safe from abuse and to live without fear.
SEED is providing male survivors of violence, as well as those at risk of perpetrating violence, with a range of assistance. Through the delivery of counselling and psychotherapy in a safe and secure environment, men and boys will receive support in processing and overcoming their trauma and will learn new coping mechanisms. Social work services will be provided and designed to meet individual needs and ensure their safety.
SEED is also offering a range of recreation, training and education activities to boys and men. These activities allow boys and men to make new friends and build new support networks, which helps those who have suffered abuse to heal, while also reducing their vulnerability to abuse. Health, nutrition and hygiene education classes enable boys and men, and their families, to live healthier lives. Woodwork training, where men learn to make furniture from pallets, offers a sustainable livelihood opportunity and reduces the likelihood that men will be forced to turn to dangerous or exploitative work. It provides men with a productive activity and the chance to earn money to support their families.
To address the attitudes and systems that allow violence to happen, SEED is also conducting a campaign to raise awareness among women, girls, men and boys of the harms of gender stereotypes and gender-based violence. By engaging with all members of the community to raise awareness, we can achieve positive changes in attitudes and behavior, allowing all men, women, boys and girls to live lives free of violence and abuse.
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