Men and boys have a positive role to play in ending violence against women therefore efforts to engage them should include positive messages that inspire them to become involved, as well as provide a positive experience, Padare/Enkundleni Men’s Forum on Gender National Director Mr Walter Vengesai has said.
Whilst engaging men and boys in violence prevention is in the interest of women and girls, ending gender-based violence is also in the interest of the men and boys. In the last several decades, a wide spread emphasis on strategies to engage men and boys in preventing violence against women and girls has grown.
This emphasis is evident across many different levels of organizations, from large scale ones such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations, and regional and national organizations to those of grassroots level.
Organizations like Padare and activists are instituting practices of engaging men and boys to end violence against women and girls, as well as other interconnected issues, such as gender equality, HIV/AIDS, and sexual and reproductive health with a view to illuminate the world on issues sorrounding key human rights.
Speaking during the Parliamentary Thematic Committees workshop recenty, Mr Vengesai highlighted that men have an obligation to confront and proffer solutions to problems which ignite violence at domestic and community level.
The workshop was organised by Padare in partnership with Musasa Project and Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA) with the support from Christian Aid and sought to establish effective implementation of GBV laws.
“Padare was formed upon realizing the need to revert to our culture. We felt that men and boys have a role to play in dealing with problems that fuel GBV. Our focus is on increasing awareness of gender responsive laws and services, the provision of health care, psychosocial support and mobilizing men and young people to support gender equality, GBV prevention through community mobilization and supporting GBV referral and coordination mechanisms at district and community level,” said Mr Vengesai.
Whilst GBV has been framed and understood exclusively as a woman’s issue, there are growing cases of GBV cases against men which are sometimes fatal. What is even more tragic is that most men suffer in silence due to rigid societal notions of what constitutes a â€˜realâ€™ man. As a result, this restricts emotions which men and boys are allowed to show publicly.
Based on societal perceptions, men are supposed to be dominant and to frequently express anger and suppress emotions such as fear, sadness, vulnerability and pain. Any male individual who expresses vulnerability is likely to be demeaned or to have their personal masculinity questioned and or belittled.
Mr Vengesai concurred.
“Men who are victims of domestic violence where perpetrators are female may face social prejudice and humiliation when they report the traumatic event to police. Male victims of domestic violence are perceived as lacking machismo, and their gender identities may be perceived as fundamentally damaged. Cases of intimate-partner violence (IPV) in which the perpetrator is female and the victim is male are rarely reported, and in some communities the traumatic act is not even recognised as inherently violent”.
Speaking at the same event, Lawyer, Mr Kudakwashe Munyoro cited that government should create more shelters for GBV victims inorder to address this challenge adding that the legal channels for the victims should be less cumbersome to avoid evidence destruction.
“Perhaps the biggest step in addressing GBV cases is to facilitate information dissemination. Under the current systems, when a victim decides to speak out and report their perpetrator, the evidence is expected to be crystal clear and beyond any reasonable doubt hence this usually leads to destruction of evidence.
“Government should create shelters for GBV victims where they will be monitored until justice is delivered,” said Mr Munyoro.
Padare/Enkundleni Menâ€™s Forum on Gender National Chairperson Mr. Jonah Gokova had this to say;
â€œWeâ€™re getting reports where some men are also being abused by women. As Padare we have a counselling service to men who are perpetrators of violence and for those being abused we have a way of finding support to such people if they approach us”.