Men raise voices against GBV

Calling on all men to pledge respect for women every day.

19 November 2018 | Crime

Namibian men are increasingly urging other men to take up the cause for gender equality and speaking up against the deadly epidemic of violence against women and children.

“Although most men don't use violence in our relationships, all men have a responsibility to help make it end – otherwise our silence becomes a form of tacit consent,” Charles Simakumba, director and founder of the White Ribbon Campaign Namibia (WRCN) said.

This year, the WRCN, which aims to instil a sense of responsibility and awareness in Namibian men to help in the fight against gender-based violence and true equality between the genders as well as reframing traditional and harmful mind-sets, is hoping to tackle the issue from the side of fathers and potential fathers.

With the upcoming annual 16 days of activism against gender-based violence (GBV) campaign in Namibia, the WRCN invites all fathers and future dads as well as their daughters to an event titled “Because we have Daughters” and “My dad is my ally”.

Simakumba said with the wave of violence decimating Namibian society, especially against girls, women and children, the 16-day activism campaign should instead be a 365, all-year, initiative.

“We call on all men to pledge respect for women every day, not just on a special occasion. We call on men to mentor boys and to teach respect for girls and women, and to teach them that violence is not acceptable..”

The dad campaign urges men to take thirty minutes of action for change to talk to their sons about “consent, boundaries and respect for women and girls”.

“The violence perpetrated by men against women must stop. It is up to fathers and all men to end it. The victims are not merely statistics: they are wives, sisters, mothers, daughters and friends. Good men and fathers cannot and will not sit on the sidelines while those they love are exposed to harm.”

Banish harmful traditions

Simakumba said the idea behind the call to fathers to join the campaign is based on the fact that men are traditionally “viewed as a patriarchal figure and as the provider. The idea with the campaign is to explore how a modern dad can play the role of a friend, an ally to his daughter, from the lens of support, and not control.”

He added that violence is linked to social inequality between the genders and violence cannot end unless women are able to enjoy full equality in all spheres of life.

“We also know that men's violence stems from the ways we raise boys to be men and the impossible expectations of manhood. We want to raise boys to be good men who won't ever use violence. For this to happen, a model of caring, non-violent masculinity must start in the home. We must stop raising our sons to fear showing feelings, vulnerability, and to make them feel they always have to be in control.”

He said women in Namibia face daily risks of sexual harassment and assault, are forced into early marriages, lack access to reproductive care and other health essentials. Less widespread but still existing cultural practices such as genital mutilation that form part of harmful practices, are also still practiced.

Praise

He praised men too, who he said are increasingly carrying the burden of hard work at home, caring for children and homes “not just for the fun, quality time, but the slogging work. As we do so, we provide an example to our daughters and sons that they should expect nothing less from boys and men.”

The WRCN does not limit their work to campaigns, but is also pushing for legislative changes, police training, workplace policies and courses for new parents as well as school-based programmes.

The organisation works with regions and communities in order to spread the message and in partnership with women's organisations.



Second initiative

Last week, another project aimed at fostering and raising the voices of men against violence was launched. The “Men involvement in GBV prevention and reduction” programme is aimed at assisting men and young boys in becoming more involved to end the high rate of violence against women and children in Namibia.

The programme is a Namibian Men for Gender Justice Initiative in cooperation with Women's Action for Development and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.

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