Lockdowns are meant to keep people safe by curbing the spread of COVID-19. But for many women, the orders to stay home have put them at increased risk of violence from men in their households. Children in abusive households are also at greater risk.

Last week, Heart-Links’ partner Centro Santa Angela held an online forum with educators, counselors and community workers to look at ways to address the problem in the communities in northern Peru where they work. The event forms part of the project Men for Gender Equality financed by Heart-Links’ donors.

Called Men at Home: Masculinity and Gender-Based Violence in Times of Coronavirus, the forum examined why men are becoming more violent during lockdown and how to help them manage their anger and other emotions during this time without turning to violence.

Participants also spoke about the opportunities for personal growth the lockdown offers men. Men who normally spend their days away from home are seeing up close the work involved in keeping house and caring for children. Men can assume their share of household chores and spend time with their children, caring for them and helping them with their schoolwork. “There’s an opportunity here for developing more equal and healthier relationships,” said forum leader Yair Vásquez.

Men at a street market shopping for food.
During the first several weeks of the pandemic, men and women were not allowed outside on the same days. For some men, it was the first time they were responsible for grocery shopping.

Participants will take the tools learned during the forum back to the communities and groups of men they work with and apply them in their own lives as well.

Seven women in Peru have been killed by men since the state of emergency was declared on March 15. In the same period, the offices of the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations has responded to 1,585 reports of violence against women and 704 reports of violence against children.