Domestic Violence Prevention in Peru Begins with Community Outreach and Education

Sherry Lipsky, PhD, MPH, PA volunteered at Project Huancayo, Peru, where she helped lead efforts to prevent domestic violence in the region.

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This past fall, I spent two weeks volunteering at FIMRC’s Project Huancayo in Peru with a clear goal in mind: to help raise awareness about domestic violence prevention in the region. Prior to my volunteering on site, I worked closely with Manouche Dumonceau, the Field Operations Manager (FOM) in Huancayo. Together, we developed a plan for training staff and conducting educational workshops among women, teens, and children in nearby communities. The staff training included an educational on domestic violence and how to conduct and analyze the results of focus groups. This helped set the stage for our community outreach and education efforts.

We reached out to several groups in the community: young women living in a home for pregnant and teen mothers, girls living at a local orphanage, women in a maternal health program at a rural health post, a youth leadership group in a foster home for teens, and women who are a part of FIMRC’s Project CUY -- a program that addresses anemia and malnutrition in the community. At Project CUY, we held a focus group with the women, an open, round-table style discussion to help the women feel comfortable sharing their experiences and bond with one another. It took some time, but we were able to hear their perspectives and personal experiences related to domestic violence. The input from this group was crucial as we put together a community education program.

We held educational workshops in each group over the two weeks to help raise awareness about domestic violence and how to prevent it. I think the best part of these workshops—and the most helpful and fun—was having the young girls and teens practice skits/socio-dramas about different types of interpersonal violence/abuse. We had them break into small groups, develop a skit and act it out in front of the entire group. Each skit was followed by a group discussion about the scenario. The children were often shy, but also funny and inquisitive. It was inspiring to see them participate as much as they could.

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Our finale was helping the youth leadership group at the foster home prepare for a public health campaign centered around domestic violence. We held a workshop to create flyer handouts, make posters and white ribbons (to give to people to wear to support anti-violence against women), and design t-shirts splattered with red paint. On my last day, we went to a nearby town and the teens led a “die-in” demonstration in the plaza. The girls wearing red-splattered t-shirts laid on the ground to symbolize women who lost their lives to domestic violence. One by one, they stood up and explained why they died. One teen provided statistics on domestic violence, others read the posters out loud, and we all shouted “Ni Una Menos” (not one less—the movement against violence against women) while handing out the white ribbons and flyers.

We truly made an impact on this community and I am so proud of the progress we made during my time in Peru. My focus group training manual and domestic violence presentation is available by contacting me at slipsky2018@gmail.com.

After the event, the Peruvian Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations and our Project Huancayo team in Peru created & shared a video so that those unable to attend could still hear its message.

They shared it through this social media post.

Appropriate permissions were obtained to share photos & videos.