Nov 16, 2021 - World

Programs push men to unlearn machismo

The Calma call center in Bogotá, where trained therapists help men unlearn machismo and vent their emotions. Photo: Secretaría de Cultura de Bogotá

The Calma call center in Bogotá, where therapists help men unlearn machismo and vent their emotions. Photo: Secretaría de Cultura de Bogotá

Call centers and group meetings in Mexico and Colombia offer ways to combat violence against women by focusing directly on the men who perpetrate it.

Why it matters: Organizers hope the pilot programs can promote best practices to curb gender violence. They would also like to see the programs replicated across Latin America and the Caribbean, the region with the highest rate of sexual violence against women in the world, as well as alarming numbers of murdered women, according to the UN.

  • Most of the region’s countries have adopted policies to tackle this sort of violence and strengthen punishments. However, systemic issues, like distrust in and mistreatment from authorities, lead women not to report crimes like rape and translate to such violence still being pervasive.
  • The programs in Mexico and Colombia focus instead on prevention and unlearning negative stereotypes.

How it works: The programs, including the Calma call center in Bogotá and AA-style meetings from Gendes A.C. in Mexico City, offer counseling and education.

  • Calma, newly established by the local government of Bogotá, employs psychologists to answer phone calls from men struggling with their emotions but who, because of entrenched cultural patterns, lack proper outlets to talk them through.
  • In Mexico City, Gendes A.C. (short for Gender and Development in Spanish) organizes group therapy sessions that focus on how to foster a non-toxic relationship and how to respect women’s sexual boundaries.

Details: Calma has received an average of 20 calls a day since it was formally launched in October, Francisco Royett, the manager, tells Noticias Telemundo.

  • Calma specialists say they have defused possibly violent situations, in one case talking down a man who said he was thinking of killing his girlfriend over suspicions she was seeing someone else.
  • Colombia also has the Escuela de Desaprendizaje del Machismo (school to unlearn machismo) to train public officials to avoid blaming women who report violence.
  • Besides the therapy sessions, Gendes offers workshops on topics such as co-parenting and video campaigns with messages like “machismo is not destiny.”
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