Men need help, says activist

2019-09-26 06:01
Men seen leading a Peace Walk, organised by Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum on Saturday 21 September. PHOTOS: MZWANELE MKALIPI

Men seen leading a Peace Walk, organised by Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum on Saturday 21 September. PHOTOS: MZWANELE MKALIPI

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In a united front Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum and other community stakeholders organised a “peace walk” through Lwandle to say no to gender-based violence.

The museum was joined by local leaders, community and student interns from the United States, who joined the walk on Saturday morning 21 September.

As they walked through the community in high spirits, holding placards aloft while singing, passers-by and onlookers could be heard shouting their support.

Some of the placards read “Am I next?” and “Stop femicide”.

After the brief walk around eMaholweni (hostels) the group gathered at the museum, where they discussed ways of ensuring safety of women and children.

Lwandle police spokesperson Sergeantt Mthokozisi Gama said no-one can deny that gender-based violence is a problem in communities. “As people of Lwandle we also experience this problem,” he pointed out, “and many are perpetuating it by not reporting it. People hide these things for different reasons – for instance, not wanting to expose their loved ones and the breadwinners of their families.”

Gama said others lose hope because the criminal justice system fails them, and he hoped such discussions help to educate the community.

“Our brothers and sisters need to learn more about this scourge in our areas,” he continued. “These discussions are very important as they share critical information, particularly with young people, who can then share it more widely.”

Sive Cetywayo, a gender activist, said gender-based violence did not choose, and it affected everyone.

“Men are the perpetrators, so we need help,” he said. “We still live in a patriarchal society, and when a woman says no, it is no!”

Cetywayo urged all men to stand together and say no to this scourge.

Vuyina Breakfast believed that policemen and women were also part of the problem and needed to be taught to handle such cases.

“We need to fix this younger generation, as they cannot carry on this patriarchal mindset [that gives rise to this],” she said. Social media are powerful tools we can use to target and engage young people on the issue.”

American student Juanae Brown emphasised the importance of speaking out, even if just among one’s own circle. “We should not shy away from exposing our friends and brothers,” she said. One must not be scared to speak out if a friend is doing wrong, and not worry about their standing.”

Some speakers suggested men needed to motivate one another proactively, and not just accept social situations at face value, and educators needed be trained in intervening when situations occur.

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