The slogan for today’s theme “The role of men and boys” in South Africa is: “Where are the five in six men who are not abusive?” This slogan recognises the fact that, contrary to assumptions that gender equality is about women, men have an important role to play in ending violence against women and through this, creating a more equitable society.
It is only more recently that men’s role in ending gender violence has begun receiving more attention – both by women and men themselves. It has been acknowledged that there are many ways of expressing one’s manhood. Unfortunately, dominant notions of masculinity which reward violence, sexual conquests and displays of physical power, mean that most men are unable to explore alternative expressions of their manhood.
But at the same time there exist men who are caring partners, fathers and brothers, who regard women as their equals and who have found other ways of being men. We must recognise and support their efforts as our partners in ending gender violence.
When violence is not news – the media on gender violence
The challenge before the media is to move beyond clubbing what happens to women with routine crime briefs, on the one hand, and sensational stories, on the other, to cover "the greatest human rights scandal of our times." Ammu Joseph looks at media coverage of violence against women.
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Today’s I story
Learning to be myself
By Thapelo Rahlogo
I have found my passion and through this I have begun healing. Theatre and performing are what I love. My work has allowed me to teach and work with young people and I have learnt that the more you teach, the more you learn. I know that there is help for people who want to change their lives, for men who do not want to abuse women; for real men.
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5 December: An awareness campaign took place in Cajmpt Levieux Social Centre on women, drugs and HIV/AIDS. In addition a one-and-a-half hour radio programme was aired on Radio One which covered issues of women in the economy and in politics. Guests included Loga Virahsawmy, President of Media Watch Organisation and Lovena Sowkhee, a lawyer and Executive Committee member of the MMM political party. Judging from the calls it seemed as if men are not used to hear women speaking about these issues as some of their comments were inappropriate.
6 December: A half-day workshop was held with Centre D'Acceuil de Terre Rouge, Women's Section of the Nursing Association, Terre de Paix, Chrysalide, Idrice Goomany Centre, educators for street children, Kinoute, Centre de Solidarite, SOS Village, Natresa and two journalists.
The workshop was sponsored and opened by the UNDP representative for Mauritius and Seychelles, Ms. Smedler. In her address she stressed the importance of NGOs interacting with the media. Jean Claude de L'Estrac, Editor in Chief of L'Express who delivered the keynote address explained the role and responsibility of the media. He invited Media Watch Organisation to arrange for NGOs to have a guided tour of L'Express to create a better understanding of how media houses work.
Two HIV positive women from India spoke about their HIV status and the importance of media being part of awareness campaigns on gender and HIV/AIDS. Participants at the workshop also monitored articles from the press and had a lively discussion on sexist advertisements.
Go to Media Watch Organisation’s website at: http://mediawatch.clickpost.com
(By Loga Virahsawmy)
4 December: Activities for the 16 Days of Activism Campaign took place across Namibia beginning with a Walk of Hope in Katatura under the theme “Celebrating our lives which ended at Parliament Gardens”. The event was organised by the Lirongo Eparu Organisation. Speaking after the walk, Prime Minister Theo-Ben Gurirab who participated in the event said that the struggle against HIV/AIDS is a shared responsibility, not just a personal challenge but also a human challenge.
Gurirab said that in Namibia approximately 23 percent of people had tested HIV positive: “We cannot ignore the danger that has befallen our settlements, villages, towns and cities.” He said that the Namibian government through the Third Medium Term Plan, which was launched by President Sam Nujoma earlier this year, had provided a comprehensive plan of action for a multi-sectoral response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. “Let us hold one another’s hands and move together towards an AIDS-free Namibia where the ingenuity and promise of all citizens can be fully realised,” he said.
In Gobabis, at a World AIDS Day commemoration event which took place on December 2, Omaheke Regional Governor Laura McLeod noted that women and girls are particularly vulnerable to HIV infection and to the impact of AIDS. She said that six million people with HIV/AIDS need antiretroviral treatment immediately and women and children make up the largest proportion of those who need treatment and support.
McLeod cautioned people of the Omaheke region saying that the infection rate in the region could escalate. According to her, the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Omaheke had increased from nine to 13 percent between 2002 and 2003.
(By Sarry Xoagus-Eises: GEMSA)
4 December: “Children’s rights” was the theme for the cyber dialogues on Saturday at which scores of children from around Johannesburg participated. Panellists included Prince Xhanti Sigcawu from the House of Traditional Leaders; Councillor Ramokgale; Mr Gobe from the House of Traditional Leaders; Joyce Siwani from the National Children’s Rights Committee; Shirley Mabusela, a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and Buyi Mbambo from UNICEF.
The role of schools, teachers and the education system was discussed by experts and children themselves as they logged on to the chat at the City of Joburg. Children asked questions such as what they should do if their parents did not believe them when they shared experiences of violence or abuse and where they should go for help. The need to assist and support parents was also raised. One panellist mentioned the National Children’s Rights Committee that trains both parents and children about their rights and responsibilities.
Another area of concern was that of child-headed households. Participants emphasised the vulnerability of young girls and boys who are at risk of exploitation and abuse by adults. Read the summary of Saturday’s chat by going to: www.cyberdialogues.co.za and following the link from “Children’s Rights.”
6 December: The role of men and boys in ending violence against women is a hotly debated issue by gender activists – both by women and men. This was the theme for the cyber dialogue today which saw participants on the online chat exploring among other things how to raise boys who are not violent and finding non-violent ways of dealing with conflict.
Panellists included Percy Nhapo from the Solidarity Centre; Boitshepo Lesetedi from Planned Parenthood Association of South Africa and Rodney Fortuin from Engender Health. Early on in the discussion a comment was made that “the fight for gender equality is not a fight against men.” This set the stage for an honest discussion on masculinity and understandings of manhood. The importance of positive role models for young men and boys was raised as an important strategy to address the dominant violent masculinities which contribute to gender violence.
Many participants proposed working with young boys as a way of reducing violent behaviour when they are older. Others felt that men’s lack of self esteem and feelings of powerlessness – in a context of poverty and high levels of unemployment – were factors in fuelling violence against women.
Read the summary of today’s chat by going to: www.cyberdialogues.co.za and following the link from “Role of men and boys.”
Speaking during the commemoration of World AIDS Day held at Siteki in the Lubombo region on Saturday, Swaziland’s Queen Mother, Ntombi Tfwala condemned Swazi men who abuse women and children. Other speakers at the event came out strongly against violence against women and called on men to change their violent behaviours.
Read the full story at: http://www.genderlinks.org.za/networks/newsletter.asp?nid=15
(By Bhekie Maseko)
Activities in Zimbabwe today included:
*GEMSA’s e-dialogue – discussions today focused on the theme “The role of men and boys in ending gender violence”. Remember to join the discussion at: http://www.dgroups.org/groups/GEMSA. Send a message
to the list to: GEMSA@dgroups.org
*Padare and National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH) held a public meeting at the Book Café.
*A Girls Education Strategic Planning workshop was held.
* The Women's Coalition held three workshops on violence against women and also distributed the draft Domestic Violence Bill and other
materials in Mutare and Plumtree.
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