Men lament lack of inclusivity in GBV programmes

Phillipa Jaja

The months of November and December are conspicuous for the commemoration of many events that recognise human rights issues. Currently the nation is seized with the 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV).

Many events have been set up to raise awareness critical for positive behavioural change with the call to end the vice.

However, a vox pop conducted by this reporter in the streets of Harare revealed that men were unhappy with the programming which lacks male inclusivity.

 Tatenda Shinya said men were being excluded in GBV programming further perpetuating their vulnerability to GBV.

“Coordinators of various GBV programmes rarely pay heed to men nor their concerns. We are virtually under represented.

“In the event that they do, they portray a negative image of men as perpetrators hence men’s voices as victims are not amplified.

This opens us up to public resentment and ridicule making it difficult for us to invoke sympathy even when we are being abused.” He said.

He said the result was that men were vulnerable to GBV.

“Lack of male inclusivity is therefore opening us up to abuse. Women no longer respect us as they have the backing of every major stakeholders. Hence, we are at their mercy as they abuse us willy nilly knowing they will not face retribution” he said.

Shinya said law makers were also lax in dealing with gender abuse issues involving men.

“Police do not take men seriously. In extreme cases, men victims are ridiculed upon lodging their complaints which discourages reporting of GBV cases in the first place. This also mirrors the prevalent societal prejudice which does not take abuse of men seriously. As such, the male community is a troubled lot which explains the high number of suicides obtaining for men as they suffer in silence.” He said.

Another Harare resident, Kudzai Muchenje concurred saying male victims were at the receiving end of societal injustice when on issues of GBV.

“Community is blind to GBV perpetrated against men. Many are not aware that verbal abuse is the trigger responsible for gender based violence in many households. However, the men gets blamed for failing self-control whilst apparently ignoring a woman’s role in the equation.

“We get persecuted and have no one to run to as we do not have anyone representing us and making us heard. The law is even worse, even the set up at the police station where you are asked to speak up whilst someone is mocking you for getting beaten by a woman.”

Allen Puwa remarked that the ground was not even for male representation in GBV matters.

“Men are being beaten out there. We hear of it in silent whispers in bars and other public spaces where there are not judged. However, the reality on the ground is very different. Even the media gives voices to women narratives of abuse and you wonder who is standing up for men,” he said.

Muchenje added; “The 16 days of activism against GBV is an annual international campaign that kicks off on25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. This year’s theme is “UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls.”

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