Fellow Since 2008
Socio-Economic Interface for Violence Elimination (SEIVE)
This profile was prepared when Paul Okoth was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Fr. Okoth believes that lasting solutions to the societal problem of domestic violence can come from the main perpetrators—men—but not until they are viewed as an important part of the solution and not just the problem. Since male aggressors typically are the problem, Fr. Okoth has developed new ways to work with them. Rather than hand out prison sentences to perpetrators of gender-based violence, he utilizes therapeutic, economic, and social interventions to address both outward and hidden forms of gender violence. Fr. Okoth organizes men, including former perpetrators, into community groups through which counseling services are delivered, economic development programs are implemented, and discussions on the current state of the family institution are conducted. These groups don’t come across as combative and do not ostracize perpetrators; instead they have become popular and inclusive spaces where real changes happen. Fr. Okoth’s network of community groups forms an effective mechanism for monitoring and swift intervention in cases of domestic violence in all corners of the community. In instances where the program fails to produce a change in behavior, the groups support court cases with evidence collected in their monitoring and intervention process. Father Okoth has also partnered with the police, district courts, health centers, the district probation and welfare offices, and other citizen sector organizations to support group activities. All in all, Fr. Okoth’s program is successfully turning former perpetrators into volunteer counselors and protectors of the very same families they abused. His media programs include regular radio talk shows and articles in the local and national newspapers, an important element in his plans to extend the men’s club model beyond the community where he began three years ago.