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EC men open dialogue against domestic abuse

Men of the Eastern Cape are hungry, angry and unless poverty and unemployment are addressed properly, the province will continue to have the highest rape and murder rates in the country along with the lowest employment.

This came out at a recent men’s dialogue organised by the OR Tambo District Municipality in an effort to draw the involvement of men in preventing women and child abuse.

The dialogue, held in Mthatha, saw men from different spheres gathered in one room under the theme “Addressing the Insanity that’s Tainting our Greatness”.

Participant Olwethu Mbhalo says he believed dialogues of this nature could have little or no impact on hungry, angry men and believed that the real solution lay in offering employment opportunities for men, who tended to be the perpetrators of violence.

“Our province has the lowest employment rate and the highest rate of poverty. Industries and businesses are shutting down. If the matter of unemployment is not addressed, dialogues like this are of no use. How can a hungry man sit down and listen, not knowing what he will eat for supper? Our men, especially in deep rural areas, have nothing to do. Days, weeks, months and years pass with them not knowing what do. They get bored and angry. Look at the man who slaughtered his 5-year-old nephew and ate his body parts in Port St Johns earlier this year,” Mbhalo said.

Initiatives

Siya Ndesi, chairperson of the Eastern Cape Men’s Sector said authorities were looking at initiatives to address challenges faced by men

“This follows complaints from men who say the government excludes men from its programmes. We have therefore called all men from the province to take a stand and fight against gender-based violence.  We have partnered with various stakeholders which include traditional leaders to ensure men from all spheres of the province are represented. We are targeting men from 18 years upwards, and we have specifically challenged young men who disrespect parents after they have undergone the initiation process. We want to tell them the definition of a man and how to treat women and children around them,” Ndesi said.

We are targeting men from 18 years upwards, and we have specifically challenged young men who disrespect parents after they have undergone the initiation process. We want to tell them the definition of a man and how to treat women and children around them.

Patrick Shai, founder and managing director of Khuluma Ndoda – which is a Men’s social movement against gender-based violence and prevention of femicide, said his organisation wanted to ensure that men are well organised and well structured to respond to gender issues in a unified manner.

“What we have noticed is that men are interested in participating in men’s structures. But men’s forums are not institutionalised. Post-apartheid era, we were excited about freedom. But we were never taught what freedom means and what rights are all about,” Shai said.

Mbulelo Dyasi, National Secretary of the AIDS Council, said he was disappointed in the mainstream media’s failure to cover stories that are based in deep rural areas. He said many cases of violence against women were also kept hidden as families regularly came to agreements to keep wrongful actions quiet and private.

An edited version of this story was also published by The Star

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