Men are victims of gender violence too – Varume Svinurai

Boys must be helped to embrace positive masculinity to avoid creating a male generation of potential abusers, says gender activist Themba Nzounenda.

“Boys and men are victims too. Societal perceptions that boys and men are masculine and tough make it difficult for them to speak out, because they fear ridicule and victimisation.” – Themba Nzounhenda, Varume Svinurai national organising secretary.
“Boys and men are victims too. Societal perceptions that boys and men are masculine and tough make it difficult for them to speak out, because they fear ridicule and victimisation.” – Themba Nzounhenda, Varume Svinurai national organising secretary.

Nzounenda told The Zimbabwean that taking a discriminatory approach towards boys had the potential to backfire and breed a class of abusive males who were not aware of the benefits of positive masculinity for the development and prosperity of the nation.

Organising secretary for Varume Svinurai/ Vhukani Madoda Men’s Forum of Zimbabwe, he said placing too much emphasis on girls and ignoring boys could reverse the gains made in tackling the gender agenda.

“An increasing number of boys in Zimbabwe are victims of sexual, physical and emotional violence,” says Nzouenda, “but very few people are prepared to accept that gender-based violence has broken down gender barriers.

‘We do not dispute that girls are most affected, especially by sexual violence, but there is need to tackle this by engaging the opposite sex’

“Boys and men are victims too. Societal perceptions that boys and men are masculine and tough make it difficult for them to speak out, because they fear ridicule and victimisation.”

Evidence of this, said Nzounenda, was that men were approaching the courts for protection orders against their spouses.

“Government and civil society organisations should engage boys and men in the fight against gender-based violence because this group is always blamed and sidelined,” he said.

He said taking into account that men’s and boys’ rights were relegated to the periphery, his organisation had several initiatives aimed at ‘creating’ male role models in society.

“Youths are the future. For Zimbabwe to realise gender equity, there is need to invest in them,” he said. “We intend to help raise a generation that is aware of the effects of GBV – a generation of males that realise that women are human too will guarantee a society that is GBV-free.”

The organisation, which engages men and boys at the community level, provides space for people to share information on positive masculinity. At these forums, men and boys engage in discussions, debates, community clean-up campaigns and have some fun to enhance good habits of citizenship among the youths and their parents.

“We do not dispute that girls are most affected, especially by sexual violence, but there is need to tackle this by engaging the opposite sex,” said Nzounenda.

“Catching them young is very effective and, once that sense of responsibility is instilled, the nation is guaranteed a generation of responsible males.”

Varume Svinurai was formed in August 2010. The name was adopted as a call on men to wake up, reclaim their position and promote positive and responsible fatherhood.

Post published in: News
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