Without incorporating the boy child we can kiss goodbye to ending misogyny and women’s abuse!

I still clearly remember sometime around 2007, when I excitedly approached such women's rights organizations as Women's Action Group (WAG), and Musasa Project, as well as the public broadcaster (ZBC), various psychologists, prisons officials, and the country's judiciary - with a novel concept, which I sincerely believed would be a game changer in the fight against women's abuse, and gender-based violence.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

 

I genuinely expected this to receive resounding acceptance, overwhelming support, and be implemented with the utmost zeal.

The idea was for a television program (at that time I absolutely had no knowledge of anything called “Reality Show”), that would investigate, research, and study what factors contributed in turning some men into rapists and women bashers – all recorded in front of cameras.

This would be accomplished by interviewing willing convicted abusers within Zimbabwe’s prison system (as well as ex convicts), with respected psychologists and psychiatrists playing the leading role – so as to meticulously ascertain what made them the people that they became.

This was supposed to conclude with a comprehensive report, mainly focusing on how communities at large, government, parents, our education system, could all work together in dealing with the various factors identified – whether within the home, or environment, or in our respective societies – in order to raise boys who valued their female counterparts, and treated them with the dignity and respect they deserved, as equals.

Yet, much to my utter shock – not a single one of those I approached were prepared to even entertain such a proposition – as all my emails went unreplied.

I went as far as phoning those I could reach – I distinctly recall talking with the executive directors of WAG and Musasa Project, and maybe the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe – but, all showed no interest at all in supporting such an undertaking.

A friend of mine – who was related to renowned producer Enock Chihombori (whom I had included, in the hope of him convincing his cousin to work on the television side of the project) – made a very profound comment that, probably the reason there were no takers was because the initiative appeared to justify the rape and abuse of women.

I was flabbergasted!

How, on earth, does trying to thoroughly understand, and get to the bottom of, a problem bedevilling our society – in order to find a lasting solution – ever be considered an attempt at defending and justifying the particular challenge or crisis?

With a very downtrodden heart, I gave up on the project – and left it to gather dust, who knows where!

I was, however, amazed today, as I listened to a most interesting conversation on SABC News’ Morning Live – in commemorating International Boy Child Day – whereby they were, more or less, focussing on similar issues I attempted to raise all those 15 years ago (and, was overwhelmingly given a very cold shoulder), as they tackled how we could nurture and groom our boy children into responsible, respectable, and respectful members of society, who would value the rights and dignity of women.

Wow!

So, today this is no longer “defending and justifying” the abuse of women?

In fact, until this morning, I had no idea there was even an “International Boy Child Day”!

This was a most welcome relief – since, it proved that the world had finally awoken to the reality of the fact that, if we sincerely desired to fight prejudice and misogyny – we needed to work on how we brought up our boy children, with a complete understanding of what factors contributed in creating the type of boys and men we have had as perpetrators of gender-based violence, and women’s abuse.

There is no way the fight for gender rights and parity can ever be accomplished, without the focus also being on the boy child.

The obsession on solely paying attention to punitive measures against those committing these horrendous criminal acts (in the form of lengthy prison terms, such as life imprisonment or the death sentence, or even castration) may truly be well and good for a particular purpose – but, ignoring to tackle the root cause of this heinous pandemic is foolhardy and myopic.

As world-famous Zimbabwe legendary musician Oliver Mutukudzi once sang, “tanga watsvaga chaita kuti musoro uteme” – in other words, if one has a headache, the best course of action is to find out what caused it, and how to deal with that.

If we truly want to create a new world – where we have boys and men who regard their female counterparts as equals, deserving respect and dignity – then, we need to start with the boy child, and shape the type of men we want him to become.

We need to pay close attention to the factors in our homes, communities, schools, and country that play a role – no matter how negligible these may appear on the surface – in turning our sons into violent individuals, who believe that ruthless aggression is the best recourse in solving whatever challenges they may face.

Similarly, we need to understand what it is that makes our boys perceive girls and women the lesser gender, and regard them merely as sex objects that are no good for anything else – besides, certain set roles and careers.

The world can disregarding the boy child at its own peril – since that would be akin to ignoring what is causing the headache – rather choosing to focus on taking pain killers, whilst a possible cancerous tumor festers in the head!

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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