Key recommendations

The research in Burundi found that the Church and religious leaders have the power to break the negative cycle of SGBV that has permeated society and culture. Based on this research, the study provided some key recommendations that can be used and adapted to other contexts where religious organisations are working to address SGBV. 

Build awareness: It is crucial that the church engages with other organisations, such as civil society groups, non-governmental organisations, other faith-based groups and government service providers, to educate men, women and children on the different types of SGBV that can occur, and to promote the laws, policies and services that are available to survivors.

Provide education and training: There is a desperate need for sound theologically-based education and training for church leaders and congregation members, which will have a positive impact on society. This should cover equality and equitable relationships –  particularly within the story of Creation and New Testament teachings, fair and fulfilling roles in sex, marriage and family relationships, the need to redeem an understanding of manhood and masculinity, a transformed understanding of what it means to be the head of the household and promoting relationships of mutual respect and value between husband and wife – this can be done through promoting Christ-like equitable role models.

Create safe spaces: Churches, community groups and state-run projects need to create safe spaces for men and boys, and SGBV survivors, to share ongoing vulnerabilities and heal from their own traumatic experiences of violence. This will facilitate a space for transformative masculinities and bring an end to stigmatisation.

Show leadership: The Church needs to denounce violence in all forms and publicly reject the norm that is attributing ‘manliness’ to violence. We need to invest in leaders who live and demonstrate equitable attitudes, based on the character, teachings and life of Christ. This will promote equitable, non-dominating, non-violent relationships at all levels.

Provide mentorship: There need to be programmes for young people on positive masculinities, and pre- and post-marriage counselling for couples, which focus on positive aspects of relationships and family wellbeing.

Reach hard-to-reach areas: The Church is the only institution accessible to people in remote areas, and it is imperative that the Church works in partnership with local and national administrative and judicial bodies to respond to incidents of SGBV and promote an understanding of all of the above.

Create meaningful partnerships: Churches and non-FBOs (non-faith-based organisations) need to form coalitions and collaborate with other key organisations on advocacy efforts to influence national policy and practices.

  • It is important that non-FBOs acknowledge that there is scope and willpower to change from within the Church, and find common ground to work together.
  • Churches and non-FBOs need to form coalitions and collaborate with other key organisations on advocacy efforts to influence national policy and practices.