Pretoria – Members of Rise Up Against Gender-based Violence are taking the message about putting an end to gender-based violence to men in taverns.
Mandisa Khanyile, the fund-raising director for the NPO, said the idea to reach out to men in the tavern environment they frequented had been a necessary and an eye-opening experience.
Khanyile said the first leg of the talks, in collaboration with the Distell Group Limited, started in Orange Farm last month as part of the Women’s Month activities and because statistics indicated a high prevalence of gender-based violence cases picked up in that sector.
During the sessions, she said facilitators offered talks on issues of consent during sex, maintaining healthy relationships and anger management.
Khanyile said although initially hesitant to take part in the three-hour sessions, with time some men eventually started opening up about their experiences and realised some of their own toxic behaviours.
“We’ve received a lot of backlash about holding talks in taverns where alcohol is consumed, but we felt it was the best place to talk to them as that is their natural environment where they feel comfortable.
“When we start the talks there is a lot of aggression and you find that in many instances men think that the problem is not as bad and people are cooking up the stats.”
Khanyile said witnessing men in taverns realising they, too, may have violated someone was what made it worthwhile.
In Gauteng, in particular, she said the organisation had trained facilitators who assisted with the evacuation of women through an emergency line without alerting their abusers.
She said this was due to the fact that 80% of femicide cases occurred when the victims wanted to leave.
“The advocacy work has been done by the government, but we also need to be implementers of the change we want to see and not be afraid to start dealing with the problem at the grassroots level.”
She said there was a need for initiatives to have social behavioural change programmes that engaged not just the survivors, but also spoke to potential perpetrators and trying to change harmful social norms and practices to see proper prevention instead of dealing with the response.
The next leg of the sessions will be held next month in the Western Cape, and Khanyile said it was the second biggest area battling high cases of gender-based violence.
South Africa has the highest rape statistics in the world, with the police reporting 52420 cases of sexual offences between 2018 and last year. Furthermore, according to a survey conducted by the SA Medical Research Council, one in four South African men have admitted to committing rape.