Changing the System: Engaging Boys in Prevention

In the past, exploitation prevention has been targeted primarily at women and girls. More recently, increased attention has been given to engaging younger males and adult males in the prevention of sexual violence.

It is now widely recognized that gender norms about masculinity contribute to violence against women and girls. Although it is true many young men and boys are sexually exploited, sexual violence is a gendered issue with, generally speaking, a male perpetrator and female and/or child victim. It is important to note most men are not violent or exploitative.

Some ways gender and cultural norms contribute to sexual violence against women and girls:

  • Men are expected to: take risks, endure pain, be tough or stoic, have multiple sex partners

  • Power imbalance: gender norms espouse men's superiority and dominance over women and children

  • Economic dis-empowerment of men: there is increased sexual violence in households where men have been unable to fulfill role as breadwinner.

  • Adolescent girls are not thought of as children- their bodies are seen as highly sensual and desirable

There is a lot to be done to support boys and young men to challenge norms of masculinity and femininity contributing to violence and sexual violence. For more information please visit the White Ribbon Campaign: