‘Men are not vil­lains’

Sunday Express - - NEWS -

MEN should not be viewed as merely po­ten­tial per­pe­tra­tors of abuse, but as pro­tec­tors of their fam­i­lies and so­ci­ety. This was said dur­ing In­ter­na­tional Men’s Day (IMD) com­mem­o­ra­tions held last week at Set­soto Sta­dium. Or­gan­ised by She-Hive As­so­ci­a­tion in col­lab­o­ra­tion with AIDS Health­care Foun­da­tion (AHF) Le­sotho, the com­mem­o­ra­tions fo­cused on men’s and boys’ health, im­prov­ing gen­der re­la­tions, pro­mot­ing gen­der equal­ity, and high­light­ing male role mod­els.

IMD is an an­nual in­ter­na­tional event in­au­gu­rated in 1992 and cel­e­brated in over 80 coun­tries on 19 Novem­ber. The theme for 2016 is “Stop Male Sui­cide”. World­wide, the sui­cide rate is worse for men than women, and av­er­aged out on a coun­try by coun­try ba­sis the rate of sui­cide for men is up to three times that of women.

Ac­cord­ing to She-Hive As­so­ci­a­tion founder and Di­rec­tor Ma­makhethe Phomane, their goal in com­mem­o­rat­ing IMD was to change the nar­ra­tive of men be­ing por­trayed as per­pe­tra­tors of abuse and not pro­tec­tors in so­ci­ety.

She-Hive As­so­ci­a­tion en­gages peo­ple who have ex­pe­ri­enced, or are still un­der­go­ing, abuse to speak out about it. The as­so­ci­a­tion dis­sem­i­nates in­for­ma­tion, ed­u­cates peo­ple and helps them share ex­pe­ri­ences in order to im­prove the lives of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence sur­vivors. It also cam­paigns for be­havioural change in com­mu­ni­ties, and es­pe­cially in fam­i­lies, with a view to elim­i­nat­ing fur­ther cases of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Ms Phomane said their goal was to foster peace in com­mu­ni­ties by en­gag­ing men through di­a­logue rather than por­tray­ing them as vil­lains.

“Our goal is to cre­ate peace within fam­i­lies, so we re­al­ized that only vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence were be­ing em­pow­ered dur­ing the heal­ing process yet we are sup­posed to em­power men as well,” she said.

“We don’t ad­vo­cate for di­vorce for vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence be­cause we know how dif­fi­cult the process can be es­pe­cially if there is room for di­a­logue.”

Ms Phomane said the virtues of man­hood such as be­ing hus­bands and fathers should be cel­e­brated.

“We need to sup­port them as fam­ily heads and pro­tec­tors. They need to know that we need them in our fam­i­lies,” she said.

“We can­not achieve our goals if we leave them out by look­ing at them as per­pe­tra­tors of abuse. This is be­cause some vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence also tend to emo­tion­ally abuse men who usu­ally have the phys­i­cal strength to re­sort to vi­o­lence.”

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