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Λογότυπος της Ευρωπαϊκής Επιτροπής
International Partnerships

In a municipality in Timor-Leste, a father is taking action to prevent violence against women and girls

Bento Pereira is a farmer in a rural community located south-west of Timor-Leste’s capital Dili. Together with his four sons, daughter and wife, they have become a fine example of how gender-equitable parenting and the development of healthy relationships leads to the prevention of gender-based violence (GBV). But this shift in attitude and behaviour was not an overnight journey for Bento, for in his community of Maliana, the municipality of Bobonaro, harsh disciplining has been and remains the norm.

There are also widespread norms regarding child-rearing and discipline that can be harmful to children, often disproportionately affecting girls. The “Parenting Education Programme to Improve Developmental Outcomes for Disadvantaged Children and Adolescents in Timor-Leste”, has found that 83% of parents believe that it is sometimes necessary to frighten or threaten their children to make them behave, and 46% believe that physical punishment is the way to educate a child properly.

With the activities, I learned that instilling gender equal values in our children at home is crucial as this will determine how they will treat women and girls throughout their lifetime.

Bento Pereira

The CWR programme rolled out in October 2021. Bento completed 10 sessions of positive parenting training. Seven months later, still a firm believer in gender equality, Bento shared that the CWR programme has given him new insights. He insisted that this programme should continue to expand to isolated areas to reach more people who lack knowledge on the dangers of GBV.

“It is going great at home,” Bento said. “My kids know that they are all special and we value them equally. My wife and I share the responsibilities equally to our children, like you can see here, helping to harvest rice is one tough job and primarily considered a male’s responsibility but my daughter and sons come to help when they can. It is the same at home, there is no gendered responsibility.” His daughter Laura Pereira, who is the youngest child and only daughter agrees. “Being the only girl is normally hard as you are burdened with all the work just because you are a girl,” she said. “I am happy we are brought up equally.”

Timor-Leste is one of the countries that benefits from the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative. It works in partnership with government, civil society, UN agencies and other partners in the eradication of violence against women and girls.