As this week marked the start of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, Nomaxabiso Victim Support Centre in Whittlesea hosted a men’s conference in the Dongwe community hall last week.
Centre manager Zoleka Mtshiselwa said the non-profit organisation was there to promote a safe environment and to ensure the safety of women, men and children. The centre then introduced the ‘real men’ programme, targeting men in surrounding villages.
“The organisation is there to provide basic counselling and equip victims of crime. It aims to prevent domestic violence and rape and to minimise the risk of crime. We have discovered serious cases of emotional, physical and sexual abuse in rural areas caused by men and that of men being abused by women which are not immediately reported. People in rural areas do not know where to report these cases,” she said.
Member of Real Men, Siyabulela Menze, said the purpose of the event, under the theme ‘Thetha Ndoda’, was to speak and act against gender-based violence (GBV). “The event was to say ‘not in our name.’ Let us stop and fight against GBV, help men rediscover their value and revive their dignity and help prevent and eliminate the stigma of men being labelled as perpetrators. We need to change our way of thinking. We have to be men of this new era and change our ways so that the next generation acts on protecting women and children.”
Menze said representatives from various departments including social development, justice, Saps, health, Sassa and correctional services were there to give messages of support.
Ward 19 councillor Papama Madubedube said the programme was to launch the real men annual conference, explaining that men were placed in groups and each given a commission to measure their understanding of their roles and responsibilities. “An understanding of what role the father is playing in educating the son was one. The aim was to try create awareness and educate them on the issue of child neglect. By this we are also trying to fight the issue of drugs which are a contributing factor in the area.” Madubedube said the engagement included a lengthy discussion on the prevalent human rights violation that is GBV.