Masculinity and patriarchal culture: how the CEPREV contributes to the prevention of gang violence in Central America

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Managua, Nicaragua, October 2014 – As part of the EUROsociAL cooperation programme between Europe and Latin America, Efus organised a workshop on the prevention of violence in San José, Costa Rica, which was focused on the role of man in a patriarchal culture and how it contributes to perpetuating violence.

The workshop was moderated by Monica Zalaquett, Director of the Centre for the Prevention of Violence (Centro de Prevención de la Violencia, CEPREV) of Managua (Nicaragua), which has been working for 17 years with violent youths in deprived neighbourhoods of Managua and in other Central American countries.

The psychosocial intervention model followed by CEPREV in communities and prisons is based on the analysis of the impact of patriarchal culture in the reproduction of violence at home, at school and in the community. This cultural model promotes a type of masculinity whereby men are emotionally repressed since birth (“Boys don’t cry”), are forbidden to express their paternal vocation (“Boys don’t play with dolls”), and react with extreme violence to any offence (“Kill or die as a man!”).

CEPREV promotes a model of masculinity that opposes authoritarian stereotypes about the macho who provides for his family’s material needs but ignores their emotional needs, who knows it all and is the boss, and who behaves as a ladies’ man to show that he is a real man. On the contrary, CEPREV promotes a model whereby the father is present, respectful, affectionate and open to dialogue. Such a model breaks the cycle of violence.

CEPREV works directly with young gang members and other youth groups, with mothers and fathers, teachers, community leaders, churches, police and prison officers, and journalists. Thanks to this training, these opinion-leaders disseminate the model of masculinity promoted by CEPREV.

The activity of the centre is considered as a good practice by UNESCO, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), one of five United Nations regional commissions, based in Santiago (Chile), by the Inter-American Development Bank (IABD) and other international organisations.

CEPREV has worked in 36 communities over the years and contributed to a 36% decrease in homicides and 67% in injuries.