Colombian women to party away as men face curfew night

Wed Oct 8, 2014 9:38am EDT
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By Anastasia Moloney

BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Men in the Colombian city of Bucaramanga are being told to stay home and mind the children while their wives and partners go out reveling as part of an initiative to tackle the high levels of domestic violence in the city.

The women-only night, set for Thursday, is expected to be a hit with the city’s women and bring a carnival atmosphere.

Bars, restaurants and shopping malls will offer special events for women, and local authorities are organizing women-only concerts, parties and dance classes in the city’s parks and squares. The Catholic Church is hosting events too. For men staying at home, restaurants are offering discounts on home deliveries.

Organizers of the women-only night, which is spearheaded by the chamber of commerce, governor and mayors of the province of Santander, of which Bucaramanga is the capital, hope it will stir debate about gender roles in a city known for its macho culture.

“The women-only night and voluntary curfew for men aims to be a symbolic event and a moment of reflection for the authorities, state institutions and society about the high levels of domestic violence and the role of men in society,” said Yamid Saldana, one of the project’s coordinators and press manager at Corpovisionarios, a Bogota-based think-tank that is promoting the initiative.

“It aims to send the message that it’s ok for men to stay at home and look after the children and wash the dishes, and it doesn’t mean they are less of a man,” Saldana told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview.

Men who want to venture onto the streets will have to carry a special 'safe-conduct pass' they can download online, stating they know about the initiative and the reasons why they do not want to participate, Saldana said.

Women will be in charge of this northeastern city of 530,000 people for the night, when four mayors and the provincial governor will temporarily hand over power to female government officials, he added.   Continued...