‘Men are not villains’
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.”