Gender-based violence: ‘Men need to take the reins’

Men have been urged to play an active role in eradication all forms of gender-based violence (GBV).
Fight against GBVF is underfunded(Graphic: Freepik)

Men have been urged to lead the way and eradicate gender-based violence (GBV) as the country gears up to mark 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign later this month.

Kicking off in exactly one week from today on 25 November, the international annual campaign will run until 10 December with the global theme of ‘Orange the world: End violence against women now!’

With women typically at the forefront of all GBV discussions as victims, the spotlight has been placed on men in 2021. They should open criminal cases if they are victims and refrain from taking the law into their own hands.

Limpopo men plot the way forward

Captain Albert Gabeni, who handles all GBV cases at the Thohoyandou Police Station in Limpopo, said it’s concerning that men still choose to bottle up their feelings when faced with violence. He added that despite several campaigns encouraging men to seek help if faced with abuse from people close to them, sadly they often take their own lives or those of the perpetrators.

Gabeni was speaking during a men’s dialogue last Saturday in Thohoyandou where at least 60 men plotted the way forward. The event was organised by the Real Men Foundation, an NPO which offers help to victims of GBV in the province.

Women still make up the majority

In October this year, Health-e News reported that since the NPO was established in 2020, it has seen an influx of men who are breaking the gender stereotype that “men cannot be abused”.

But, Gabeni said most of the GBV cases being reported are by women seeking protection from their abusive male partners.

According to Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), most cases of femicide are committed by partners or ex-partners and involve ongoing abuse in the home, threats or intimidation, sexual violence, or situations where women have less power or fewer resources than their partner.

“Most of the GBV cases brought to our attention are from women/females,” said Gabeni.

“Men are also abused. By the time they decide to seek help, you’ll find that they’ve been bottling up their emotions which is wrong. By doing this, you could become a perpetrator of violence yourself. We will never laugh at you, but always help you.”

‘Avoid drugs and alcohol’

Gabeni further encouraged men to refrain from abusing drugs and alcohol when they are having domestic problems.

“As men, we believe it’s okay to have several sexual partners and to abuse alcohol when we are faced with problems. This only creates obstacles in our lives. Instead, we must rather seek professional help which creates a safer environment for our women and children,” added Gabeni.

Marriage counselling remains vital

Dr Ntavhanyeni Phaswana, a renowned researcher and author, identified a possible trigger of violence.

He said one of the main causes of GBV, especially among married people, is that most of them are entering marriage without any counselling. Some couples are also getting married legally but aren’t 100% sure of which type of marriage they are signing up for. He said education is vital and this information is available at all home affairs departments.

“The lack of knowledge or understanding of types of marriages can result in problems or challenges. Education can help end some of this unnecessary violence,” said Phaswana.

Once a year not enough

Speaking to Health-e News, Maxwell Mulovhedzi* who attended the dialogue, said such initiatives should take place monthly.

“This is such an eye-opener. It shows how important it is to have this talk which reminds us of our roles within society. Our role is first to protect our women and children. If we happen to be victims of abuse, we shouldn’t take the law into our own hands. We must seek professional help and show our women and children that violence won’t be tolerated,” said Mulovhedzi.

He added: “I’m sure that if most of the men in prison today had attended similar talks, they wouldn’t be serving time. As men, we should encourage each other to seek help when faced with problems.”

The 16 Days of Activism campaign, started in 1991, will feature the ‘International Day of No Violence Against Women’ next Thursday. – Health-e News 

* Not his real name











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