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Developing capacities and skills of key institutions and professionals

Last edited: October 30, 2010

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Why should initiatives enhance the knowledge and skills of key institutions and professionals?

A key strategy, particularly when targeting boys and youth, is to improve the capacity of those who work with these populations to guide them in identity formation and non-violent relationships.

Developing these capacities with individuals who work in socializing institutions, (such as schools or the media) is critical given their influence in shaping values and norms around male and female roles, identities and behaviours in society.

Male-dominated institutions (e.g. police, other uniformed personnel) in particular, may perpetuate attitudes that support violence trough peer relations and organizational culture (Flood 2008). In these institutions, it is especially important to address violence against women and girls, not only because of the legal responsibility individuals within these structures bear to protect women and girls from violence, but also because of the greater risk they may pose to women and girls if there is an abuse of power and position and neglect to carry out their obligations that can also re-victimize women and girls seeking support.

At the most basic level, it is essential that all those who have responsibilities under the law are trained on its details so that they can fulfill their duties. Beyond this, the understanding of and commitment to gender issues within such institutions through mandatory and systematic training, as well as monitoring and accountability mechanisms, will enhance implementation of the law (Partners for Prevention 2007).

An important lesson learned is that training alone yields little sustained change. Though this section, including the recommended tools below, focus on training groups of professionals and individuals, a wider capacity development approach at the institutional level requires other key supports, such as policies, protocols, and broader changes across systems.

For sector-specific guidance and capacity development for different groups and settings, see the other programming modules on the home page.

Which key professionals should be targeted?

  • Teachers
  • Coaches
  • Health care providers
  • Journalists
  • Local authorities and community leaders
  • Religious/Faith leaders
  • Humanitarian staff
  • Military personnel
  • Police
  • Judges
  • Prosecutors
  • Parliaments
  • Other individuals who have contact or influence with boys and men
  • Professionals already involved in violence work, but not necessarily primary prevention

Examples of initiatives that have worked to enhance the knowledge and skills of key professionals


Why work with coaches?

  • Coaches are ‘natural male leaders’ who can question boys’ and men’s attitudes and behaviours in appropriate ways with significant credibility and influence.
  • By working within sports, initiatives take advantage of spaces where boys and young men feel comfortable and safe to discuss sensitive topics.

What can coaches do to encourage boys and young men to be more active in ending violence against women and children?

From the outset be clear on what is expected of the players - The first official day of practice is a special day. It is also the ideal time to define the playing field for the players regarding violence against women. Encourage them to talk and let them know what services are offered in dealing with violence.

Make clear what it means to be a man – Explain that while aggressiveness and posturing intimidation have a place in sports, acting this way in real life towards girls crosses the line and will not be tolerated on the team.

This season communicate that the players’ goals go beyond the field. Make it clear to the players that this year they will also learn to treat women with honour and respect and understand that violence never equals strength.

Model discipline and integrity. Through personal actions, teach the players the importance of respect for themselves and others, even when things are difficult and the team is not winning.

Encourage players to support each other to remain non-violent. Remind them that teammates should speak up if they think someone is involved in a situation that is disrespectful to women or girls. Remind them that good friends support each other to stay out of trouble and to change for the positive.

Use teachable moments. As a coach, planning for potential game scenarios is a normal part of the job. Do the same and plan with the team how violence against women will be dealt with.

Source: Adapted from the OneManCan Campaign

Examples of initiatives that have worked with coaches:

Coaching Boys into Men (Family Violence Prevention Fund, US )

The Family Violence Prevention Fund’s Coaching Boys Into Men initiative encourages men to talk to boys about relationships and violence. The multipronged campaign includes materials that provide advice on ways to listen to boys, how to broach the topic of gender relations in conversation, and how to use natural teachable moments. Following the training, coaches reported increased self-efficacy to respond to male athletes' disrespectful and harmful behaviours and youth reported more instances of coaches intervening when witnessing disrespectful behaviours. For more information, see the website.

See the Coaching Boys Into Men Case Study.

Adolescents and Soccer: Where Masculinity is at Play (Pan American Health Organization)

This programme trains soccer coaches to promote more gender-equitable masculinities among boys.Pan American Health Organization. See the Presentation and Manual.

Grassroots Soccer (USA) is a non-governmental organization that uses the power of soccer in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Africa. Though its focus is on HIV prevention, their educational efforts promote greater gender equality, training coaches and, when possible, engaging pairs of trainers/coaches (one woman, one man) as a way to model gender equality in all they do. See the Grassroots Soccer Case Study.

Tools for working with coaches:

Coaching Boys into Men Playbook (Family Violence Prevention Fund, USA ) The toolkit and other resources are available in English.

Toolkit to End Violence against Women (National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women, USA ) Chapter 13 on Promoting Healthy, Nonviolent Attitudes and Behaviors through Sports, offers guidance to the athletic community.

Adolescents and Soccer: Where masculinity is at Play, Manual for Facilitators and Coaches (PAHO). Available in Spanish.

Youth Development Through Football (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit in partnership with the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa) Offers a number of tools in English for working with youth, including: How to Handle Violence in Sport and Schools; The Get Youth on Board! tool kit; Coaching into Life Skills - A Guide for Football Coaches at the Eastern Cape; Mamelodi 8 Tool

Stopping Rape: What Male Athletes Can Do Fact sheet (Men Can Stop Rape, USA )

Yes to Soccer ( Liberia ) and Sports for Peace and Life ( Sudan )

Implemented by Mercy Corps in partnership with Grassroot Soccer and supported by USAID and Nike Inc., these initiatives, though not directly focused on gender-based violence, may provide relevant programming examples on using mentors in theory-based prevention programming. Both of these programmes succeeded in increasing youth knowledge and protective attitudes regarding HIV and AIDS. Yes To Soccer reported a 27 per cent increase in youth knowledge and attitudes from pre- to post-test (from 58 per cent to 85 per cent). The programme was placed within an existing youth life skills programme targeting older youth. Sports for Peace and Life, while reaching a larger number of participants, showed a more moderate 12 per cent overall increase in youth knowledge and attitudes (from 69 per cent to 81 per cent) across 16 HIV and AIDS related questions. High knowledge and attitude baselines were observed on a number of pre- and post-test survey questions. This may have led to lower overall knowledge and attitude gains due to a ‘ceiling’ effect that limited the degree to which the percentage could increase. The duration of each programme was under one year and longer programmes would provide greater opportunity to address and evaluate behaviour change.  See a Commitment to Practice: A Playbook for Practitioners in HIV, Youth and Sport.

Religious and Traditional Leaders/ Community Gatekeepers

Why work with religious leaders?

Religious and traditional leaders can:

  • Be highly influential in a community, and men may be especially responsive to their messages. In fact, perhaps the most strategic and relevant role for faith-based leaders and organizations in addressing violence against women is precisely on outreach with men focused on primary prevention and ‘zero tolerance’;
  • Support and influence behaviours in both positive and negative ways, such as by reinforcing traditional models of manhood and gender roles;
  • Provide support and service referrals to women who experience violence when appropriately sensitized and trained; and
  • Promote non-violence in their communities.

Religious beliefs and interpretations can reinforce traditional gender roles that can make women and girls vulnerable to abuse, therefore the following issues should be explicitly addressed:

Polygamy - multiple partners places women in a vulnerable position and at risk for acquiring HIV;

Reconciliation - some religions preach keeping the family together at all costs, regardless of the abuse a woman is experiencing;

Early marriage - some religions allow for child marriage or call on women to obey their husbands, which reduces a woman’s decision-making power and can strip her of her rights; and

Authority of male religious leaders - some religious leaders abuse their power (Kang’ethe et al., 2008).

Why should senior religious leaders be addressed?

  • Senior religious leaders tend to be active in national and community networks;
  • They are usually held in high esteem and seen as opinion leaders on social and political issues;
  • They may have a religious mandate to affect change in their communities and may lobby policymakers and governments in their countries; and
  • They are policymakers within their own institutions (Kang’ethe et al., 2008).

Programming recommendations for working with religious leaders to address violence against women

(The content for this section was adapted from the document Gender-Based Violence and HIV and AIDS – Training Module for Religious Leaders and Women of Faith by the Health Policy Initiative of USAID listed in the tools section below).

Enhance the knowledge of the faith community

  • Preach against violence against women and girls in religious institutions, sermons, meetings, and other important public venues.
  • Provide information on violence against women and girls, based on actual religious scriptures and teachings.
  • Routinely include instructional information in monthly newsletters, on bulletin boards, and in marriage preparation classes.
  • Sponsor educational seminars on violence against women and girls.

Develop the capacity of the faith community to be a resource on violence against women and girls

  • Seek out training from professionals in the fields of violence against women and girls.
  • Undertake the theological and scriptural homework necessary to better understand and respond to these issues.
  • Understand how certain underlying factors, such as poverty or other triggers including economic distress or job loss can affect the choices and behaviours of individual women and men, to help one respond in a proactive and appropriate way to reduce violence or the risk of violence.

Provide a safe place

  • Make the church, temple, mosque, or synagogue a safe place for survivors of violence.
  • Display materials that include local and national hotlines or other resources that can provide services and support for survivors.

Help educate other religious leaders

Encourage and support training and education for faith leaders to increase their awareness of violence against women and girls.

Speak out

Speak out about violence against women and girls in the faith community. A faith leader can have a powerful influence on people’s attitudes and beliefs – including men – and his or her leadership is important, particularly on public policy issues such as funding and changes in criminal law, and on rejecting unacceptable social norms and behaviours such as violence against women and girls.

Lead by example

Volunteer to serve on the board of directors at the local violence against women and girls programme, become a spokesperson on the issue or train to become a crisis volunteer.

Support organizations active in the area of violence against women and girls

  • Include local violence against women and girls programmes in donations and community service projects.
  • Adopt a shelter for which the church, temple, mosque, or synagogue provides material support or provide similar support to families as they rebuild their lives following a shelter stay.
  • Offer a meeting space for educational seminars and weekly support groups.


  • If there are suspicions that violence is occurring in a relationship or in a family, speak to each person separately. If an individual is being or has been abused, speak to her privately and confidentially.
  • Help the survivor plan for safety, and refer her to the community resources available to assist her.

Important Note: To intervene, one must seek support and training from professionals in violence against women and girls first to ensure one’s involvement does not cause harm to the survivor.


Address internal issues

  • Adopt policies that include appropriate responses to survivors and perpetrators of violence, including confidentiality.
  • Encourage continued efforts by religious institutions to address allegations of abuse within religious institutions to ensure a safe resource for survivors and their children.

How can religious leaders encourage men to be more active in ending violence against women and children?

  1. Be a positive role model
  2. Lead by example
  3. Encourage men to speak out
  4. Make the place of worship a safe place for victims of violence against women
  5. Intervene
  6. Support the victims
  7. Educate the congregation
  8. Use the pulpit
  9. Offer space for meetings
  10. Partner with existing resources
  11. Become a resource
  12. Support professional training
  13. Address internal issues (allegations of abuse by religious leaders)

Source: Sonke Gender Justice, OneManCan Campaign.


Initiatives that have worked with religious leaders to address violence against women and girls:

The Role of Religious Communities in Ending Gender-based Violence (DRC, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia)

From January 2007 to August 2008, partners Constella Futures and Religions for Peace conducted an activity aimed at creating ongoing capacity development for faith-based organizations (FBOs) and religious leaders – including women of faith – to respond to gender-based violence (GBV) and its links to HIV. Implemented through the USAID Health Policy Initiative, the activity focused on raising awareness of GBV and HIV, along with the importance of collaborating to prevent and reduce GBV and HIV for women and girls.

Activities implemented included

  • Implementing a regional training for women of faith and male religious leaders on GBV and HIV with participants representing Religions for Peace’s African Women of Faith Network and national Inter-Religious Councils (IRCs) from eight pilot countries (DRC, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia).
  • Drafting and implementing action plans for national-level awareness campaigns to increase their communities’ understanding of GBV and HIV and to improve their ability to address the issues.
  • Implementing a regional leadership forum to raise awareness of senior religious leaders on GBV and HIV and to enable participants from the regional training reconvened to share information from the activities they implemented through their national action plans.

For organizations interested in replicating this initiative, participants suggest the following steps:

  • Start with religious leaders already active in addressing social issues.
  • Adapt a training curriculum for different countries or regions.
  • Consider the time and labour needed to implement the initiative in numerous countries.
  • Provide adequate support and follow-up for country-level activities.

For further information on this initiative you can view the poster presentation by clicking here INCLUDE THE POSTER PRESENTATION or contact Britt Herstad, Futures Group International, and Jacqueline Ogega, Religions for Peace,

A Religious Oriented Approach to addressing Female Genital Cutting (FGC) among the Somali Community of Wajir, Kenya

The FRONTIERS project of the Population Council has developed a religious oriented approach to engage with and educate the community about female genital cutting (FGC) with the aim of encouraging them to question why the practice is sustained and move towards abandoning it. This approach has brought together the religious scholars in Wajir with other senior Islamic scholars within Kenya to debate the correct position of this practice within Islam and also borrow Shariah guidelines that are in essence contradicted by the practice, to educate the community. The myths and misconceptions around the practice, its purpose and thus the arising harms and perceived benefits can best be tackled with both religious and medical arguments.

A case study of this initiative is available in English.

Additional faith-based and religious organizations active in addressing violence against women and girls


American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is an international development organization motivated by Judaism’s imperative to pursue justice.  They have worked to prevent gender-based violence and care for survivors in conflict and post-conflict areas. See the website.


Churches Alert to Sex Trafficking in Europe actively works to eradicate Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation around the world. Excellent online resources for Christian communities. See the website.

Faith Trust Institute

FaithTrust Institute is an international, multi-faith organization working to end sexual and domestic violence. See the website.


RAVE is an initiative that seeks to bring knowledge and social action together to assist families of faith impacted by abuse.  Their site includes a compilation of resources for women, clergy and communities interested in addressing domestic violence. See the website.

Sisters in Islam

A group of Muslim women committed to promoting the rights of women within the framework of Islam. See the website.

Tools for working with religious leaders:

Guidelines for Pastors, Rabbis, Imams, Priests and Other Religious Leaders Gender Justice, South Africa)

These guidelines developed for the OneManCan Campaign include ‘Do’s and Don’ts with an Abusive Partner’ as well as ‘Do’s and Don’ts with a Survivor of Domestic Violence’. Available in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu and French.

Created in God's Image: from Hegemony to Partnership - A Church Manual on Men as Partners/Promoting Positive Masculinities (World Communion of Reformed Churches/World Council of Churches, 2010).  Available in English.

A Commentary on Religious Issues in Family Violence was written by Rev. Marie M. Fortune, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and Founder of FaithTrust Institute (formerly Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence). Substantial contributions were made by Judith Hertz of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods. This commentary addresses some of the common religious concerns raised by people dealing with family violence. It is an attempt to help the reader begin to see ways of converting potential roadblocks into valuable resources for those dealing with violence in their families.  Available in English.

Engaging Religious, Spiritual, and Faith-Based Groups and Organizations - Toolkit to End Violence Against Women (National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women and the Violence against Women Office of the U.S., Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

This chapter in the toolkit provides eleven points of action on what communities of faith can do to make a difference in the prevention of and response to gender-based violence. Available in English.

The Role of Religious Communities in Addressing Gender-Based Violence and HIV (Health Policy Initiative, USAID)

This module has been designed to guide trainers in conducting trainings for religious leaders and women of faith on GBV as it links to HIV and AIDS. It can be adapted to meet the specific priorities and needs of participants.  Its objective is to raise awareness among religious leaders and women on faith of GBV and its link to HIV and AIDS and inspire action planning to address these issues in their own communities. Available in English.

Mobilizing Muslim Religious Leaders for Reproductive Health and Family Planning at the Community Level: A Training Manual (Extending Service Delivery, USAID)

This is a five day training curriculum designed to equip male and female Muslim Religious Leaders with the necessary information and skills to better understand, accept, and support the provision of maternal and child health, reproductive health and family planning (MCH/RH/FP) information and services at the community level. The manual presents concepts of MCH/RH/FP from a perspective that is consistent with and supported by the teachings of Islam. In addition, there are sections devoted to the needs of youth and building the leadership capacity of religious leaders.

One of the sessions (#4 on page 25) addresses the prevention of violence against women and men’s role and two handouts are included on the topic of violence against women (#1 and #2 at the end of the publication).

Available in English.


What can teachers do to encourage boys and young men to be more active in ending violence against women and children?

Understand the impact of violence.

Create a physically and emotionally safe school environment.

Make your views clear on what it means to be a man.

Model respect and integrity in your interactions with women and girls.

Encourage students to support each other by speaking out when they hear about violence and encouraging them to remain non-violent.

Involve and educate parents about gender-based violence and the school programmes to prevent it.

Identify and invite non-governmental organizations to speak at school.

Hold your fellow teachers accountable.

Provide educational materials to learners, parents and colleagues.

Teach students about healthy relationships.

Source: Sonke Gender Justice, OneManCan Campaign Toolkit.

Other Individuals

Everyday men in their families, communities and workplaces, or men in leadership positions at all levels –  international, national and local – can be effective champions of gender equality and putting an end to violence against women and girls.  As figures with high visibility, authority and influence, their efforts can have a considerable impact on other individuals. Various strategies aim at encouraging men to take action and to talk to boys about relationships and violence.

Actions an Individual Can Take By Rus Funk

Challenge men’s sexism

Stop using pornography

Read men’s anti-sexist books

Read books written by feminists

Start book discussion groups on the books read

Organize men’s discussion groups

Organize a fundraiser for a local rape crisis/battered women’s center

Train yourself and other men to be anti-sexist facilitators

Organize a men’s pro-feminist activist group

Write a letter to the editor

Write a letter to a politician

Vote for women candidates

Organize a concert of female performers, or female and male performers, as an anti-sexist event

Hang up a sign denouncing sexism at sports events

Offer to do child care so that women can attend a special event (or an everyday event)

Ask before you touch your female lover(s), kiss her, hold her hand, touch her breast, and so on

Leaflet a speaker who presents topics that are anti-feminist or anti-women

Photograph men leaving a pornography establishment and create a photo essay

Hold men’s discussion during a Take Back the Night or similar event.

Source: Funk, R. 2006. Reaching Men: Strategies for Preventing Sexist Attitudes, Behaviors, and Violence. Jist Life Publishing.

How Men Can Support Survivors (Excerpted from Sonke Gender Justice, South Africa)

As a male partner, spouse, relative, friend or colleague of a woman who has survived sexual or domestic violence, you may feel it’s easier to stay silent. You might be worried that you’re going to say the wrong thing or upset her further. DON’T keep quiet! There are many different ways that you can support her both emotionally and practically, as well as taking action in your community. Here are a few ideas…

How to support her emotionally…

Listen and try to understand

You may not know what is feels like to be a woman but you know how helpful it is when someone listens and supports you through difficult times. Learn about abuse and how it affects victims/survivors – there are many resources to read that will give you information on how she might be feeling, and what you can do to help.

Believe what she is telling you

It will have taken a lot of courage for her to have told you what she has experienced or is continuing to experience. And respect her privacy: don’t tell anyone else unless she has agreed to it.

Don’t judge or blame her

No matter the circumstances, no one ever has the right to abuse or rape, and no one deserves to be raped. Don’t ask her questions about why she thinks it happened. You don’t want her to feel that you are implying that the violence is her fault.

Allow her to express her emotions

And, if she wants to cry, give her the space to do so. If she doesn’t cry, don’t take this as a sign that she wasn’t raped; different people respond to rape in different ways. She could be dealing with delayed shock, or feelings of denial. If she experiences depression for a long time or seems suicidal, encourage her to see someone.

Give her time

And try not to say things like ‘try to forget what happened.’ Particularly if she has been raped, she is not going to feel better immediately and may have good and bad days. If she’s feeling scared at night, encourage her to have a friend stay with her until she falls asleep. You can also offer to accompany her to places if she isn’t feeling safe.

Make sure she knows you are open to talking about the issue

And want to listen to how she is feeling. At the time, she may feel that all men are potential perpetrators of violence. This is perfectly normal given what she has been through. Help her see that she can rely on you and other men in her life for support.

Let her take control of her own healing

It’s important that victims of violence recover a sense of control over their lives. You can’t tell her what to do, but you can support her in what she does and offer her information, an ear and a shoulder!

Get support

You might feel anger, frustration, sadness and pain because someone you care about has been hurt – get help so that you can deal with these feelings with someone equipped to help you, like a counsellor or a social worker. Speak to her about how you have been affected by what has happened to her. This is important so that she understands that you care. But don’t burden her with too much as she may then feel guilty and reluctant to share more.

Reach an understanding about sex

If you are a lover, husband or boyfriend of someone who was raped, is it okay to be sexually intimate again? The answer to this question varies from person to person – but it is very important to be patient, and find ways to show you love her that aren’t sexual. If you aren’t sure how she feels, talk about it. Sometimes a particular touch or smell can initiate flashbacks to the rape. Flashbacks are very scary and extremely upsetting. Try not to take it personally; it’s not about you. She might ‘freeze up’ during sex, so be aware of how she is responding, and stop if you are unsure. If your sexual attraction to your partner has been affected because of the rape, talk to someone about your feelings.

How to support her practically…

Decide on a course of action together

And help her to seek different kinds of professional help. She might want to see a counselor, get tested for HIV, or she might want to go to a women’s shelter or advice centre, especially if she was abused by someone that she knows.

Help her to take action

Against the violence she has experienced. In South Africa, there are laws in place which can be used to promote action and accountability. The South African Constitution and the Domestic Violence Act make it clear that women have a right to live their lives healthily and free of violence. Read up on the issue, and take advantage of these laws!

Demand justice for survivors

Demand that the government meet its obligations to safety and security. The South African Constitution and other laws make it very clear that the government has an obligation to ensure safety for all - and to arrest, prosecute and convict perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence. To date, the police and the criminal justice system often fail victims of violence. Accompany survivors to court and help them to access their human rights. Put pressure on the police and the courts so that they take decisive action.

Help her to access available services

She doesn’t have to suffer alone, or in silence. There are services – women’s centres and places of safety she can contact in case of emergency, organizations that can give her legal advice and telephone counseling lines (e.g. See the Help page on this website. She may want you to go with her to visit these sources of support.

Support her to lay charges if she chooses to

Remember, domestic violence is a crime. She has the right to lay a charge of assault against her partner. Ask her if she would like you to accompany her to the police station to lay the charge.

Help her to secure safety

If she continues to be at risk from the perpetrator, help her to create a safe environment for herself. She has the right to apply for a Protection Order under the Domestic Violence Act. She can request this from a Magistrate’s court near to where she or her abuser lives. This order stipulates what the abuser may NOT do. If the abuser commits an act of abuse, the protection order means the abuser can be arrested. The protection order is free and can also help the woman to access medical treatment and find shelter.

Hold the perpetrator accountable

Talk with your friend to see whether she wants you or one of her other friends or family to talk to the perpetrator. Respect her decision if she says no. But also tell her that she can always change her mind.

Be careful and safe

It is not uncommon for perpetrators to lash out against people who get involved. Be prepared for him to become violent and accuse you of getting involved in issues that are not your business. Be ready to resolve the conflict peacefully even if it means walking away. If he does admit to violent behaviour and is willing to talk about it, tell him about organizations that can support him. Warning signs NOT to intervene are: he has a gun, he has a criminal record for violence, he accuses her of having affairs, or he has threatened her with death before. Even if he doesn’t suffer from irrational jealousy, intervening must not be taken lightly.

In the case of rape:

Post Exposure Prophylaxis

Following a rape, it is critical that women access both the emergency contraceptive and a 28-day course of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV infection, within 72 hours. Learn about these treatments and their possible side effects. This will help you understand what she is going through and how you might best support her to take PEP.

Insist the police take immediate action

She has the right to report the rape to the police at any time and lay a charge. Discuss reporting the rape to the police, and if she agrees, accompany her to the police station. She could still be in a state of shock, so may welcome your company when making her statement. If she wants another friend there instead of you, respect her wishes and help her get in touch with that person. At the police station, she should also be taken for a medico-legal examination by the District Surgeon. She has the right to provide her statement in a private place and to have someone there when she makes it.

Familiarize yourself with the court processes

If she does report the rape, she will have to go through a number of different procedures, particularly if the case goes to court. Take some time to learn about and understand these processes and support her through them.

How to take broader action:

Despite our progressive constitution and our strong laws against domestic and sexual violence, the police and criminal justice system continue to fail women. Many police and court officers are compassionate and committed but are underpaid and overworked and don’t get the training they need. Other police and justice department officials continue to treat women with contempt, sometimes even raping women and colluding with others to conceal the evidence.

To date most men have not been active in demanding that our Government take decisive action. It is critical that we participate in marches and rallies demanding that women and men all enjoy our constitutional right to safety and security.

Stopping Rape: What Men Can Do. By Men Can Stop Rape (USA)

All men can play a vital role in rape prevention. Here are a few of the ways:

Be aware of language. Words are very powerful, especially when spoken by people with power over others. We live in a society in which words are often used to put women down, where calling a girl or woman a @%%amp;!, freak, whore, baby or dog is common. Such language sends a message that females are less than fully human. When we see women as inferior, it becomes easier to treat them with less respect, disregard their rights, and ignore their well-being.

Communicate. Sexual violence often goes hand in hand with poor communication. Our discomfort with talking honestly and openly about sex dramatically raises the risk of rape. By learning effective sexual communication – stating your desires clearly, listening to your partner, and asking when the situation is unclear – men make sex safer for themselves and others.

Speak up. You will probably never see a rape in progress, but you will see and hear attitudes and behaviors that degrade women and promote rape. When your best friend tells a joke about rape, say you don’t find it funny. When you read an article that blames a rape survivor for being assaulted, write a letter to the editor. When laws are proposed that limit women’s rights, let politicians know that you won’t support them. Do anything but remain silent.

Support survivors of rape. Rape will not be taken seriously until everyone knows how common it is. In the U.S. alone, more than one million women and girls are raped each year (Rape in America, 1992). By learning to sensitively support survivors in their lives, men can help both women and other men feel safer to speak out about being raped and let the world know how serious a problem rape is.

Contribute your time and money. Join or donate to an organization working to prevent violence against women. Rape crisis centers, domestic violence agencies, and men’s anti-rape groups count on donations for their survival and always need volunteers to share the workload.

Talk with women... about how the risk of being raped affects their daily lives; about how they want to be supported if it has happened to them; about what they think men can do to prevent sexual violence. If you’re willing to listen, you can learn a lot from women about the impact of rape and how to stop it.

Talk with men... about how it feels to be seen as a potential rapist; about the fact that 10-20% of all males will be sexually abused in their lifetimes; about whether they know someone who’s been raped. Learn about how sexual violence touches the lives of men and what we can do to stop it.

Organize. Form your own organization of men focused on stopping sexual violence. Men’s anti-rape groups are becoming more and more common around the country, especially on college campuses. If you have the time and the drive, it is a wonderful way to make a difference in your community.

Work to end other oppressions. Rape feeds off many other forms of prejudice -- including racism, homophobia, and religious discrimination. By speaking out against any beliefs and behaviors, including rape, that promote one group of people as superior to another and deny other groups their full humanity, you support everyone’s equality.

© 1998, 2001 Men Can Stop Rape


Men Can Stop Rape (US) – Strength Training Workshops

One of the strategies of Men Can Stop Rape is to build the capacity of key professionals to engage men.  Trainings range from a half day to three days and have targeted a variety of audiences, including sexual assault and domestic violence coalitions, teachers, youth-serving organizations, among many others.  The objectives of the training include:

  • Learn how to better frame sexual assault as a problem that men can play a positive role in ending.
  • Become more aware of the ‘Dominant Stories’ of masculinity and better understand the importance of ‘Counter Stories,’ and how these relate to violence against women.
  • Explore the challenges of engaging men and learn effective ways to overcome these challenges.
  • Learn and strategize about how men can be mobilized to become better allies with women.
  • Build skills for speaking with men about sexism and strategies for effectively challenging the social norms that support violence against women.
  • Learn how to better assist men in connecting sexism to other forms of oppression.
  • Provide participants with practice responses to common reactions and questions from male audiences.

See an example exercise used in these trainings.

See more information on the training workshops.

The One Man Can Campaign (Sonke Gender Justice, South Africa)

The One Man Can Campaign supports men and boys to take action to end domestic and sexual violence and to promote healthy, equitable relationships that men and women can enjoy – passionately, respectfully and fully.  In addition to taking action in our personal lives, the campaign encourages men to work together with other men and with women to take action in our communities. A range of materials are available in English, French, Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaans, including fact sheets, workshop activities and more.

Stand-Up Guys No. 1: 6 stories about men taking a stand to fight violence against women and girls (USA) was put together by a team of caring people from various backgrounds and disciplines who thought it was important to highlight the efforts of everyday leaders who have taken it upon themselves to address violence against women and girls within their communities. Their pictures and profiles are available in English.

The World’s Most Influential Men (Hope Exhibits)

This photography exhibit promotes positive male role models by showcasing gender-equitable men and boys from around the world. It can be viewed from: