News / Africa

Working with Men to Stop Rape in Africa

Protesters deliver a letter to the office of Kenya's Inspector General in Nairobi demanding justice in the case of a teenage rape victim, Oct. 31, 2013. (Gabe Joselow/VOA)
Protesters deliver a letter to the office of Kenya's Inspector General in Nairobi demanding justice in the case of a teenage rape victim, Oct. 31, 2013. (Gabe Joselow/VOA)
Gabe Joselow
For too long, gender-based violence has been treated as a woman’s issue, even though the vast majority of crimes are committed by men. Across Africa, more programs are seeking to end the scourge of violence by engaging men on all levels and challenging traditional expectations of manhood.
 
An example of how governments throughout the continent are trying to prevent rape can be seen in the case Paul, a 33-year old rapist serving a 10-year sentence in Liberia’s Monrovia Central Prison for raping an 11-year old girl. He admitted to the crime, and is now getting counseling through a government program aimed at sex offenders. He spends much of his day learning life skills he hopes will give allow him to lead a less violent existence on the outside.
 
"I am a rapist. I was put in prison for the past two years and I have been able to improve my life in prison. I do some life skills programs like animal-raising, soap making so I feel so much better. One day I will be released, I will be a good citizen," Paul said.
 
In Liberia in particular, rape and other instances of gender-based violence were rampant during the country’s long civil war, and have continued to plague the nation since then.
 
While the government has devoted more resources to helping to support female victims, other efforts are being made to reach out to men, the most likely would-be perpetrators, and to those, like Paul, seeking rehabilitation. It is happening across Africa.
 
The women’s organization FEMNET, which supports gender equality activities across the continent, has established Men to Men programs in seven countries to recruit more male supporters in their campaign against gender-based violence.
 
Emma Kaliya, the chairwoman of FEMNET, which is based in Malawi, says it is only natural to involve more men.
 
“Personally I do not agree that they are the only perpetrators of violence, but they form the higher percentage of those that are called perpetrators, and therefore it is necessary that you bring them onboard and not leaving them behind in this process of eliminating gender-based violence,” said Kaliya.
 
The campaign to attract more men to the cause seems to be working. Male activists were out in force at a recent protest in Nairobi, demanding justice for a female teenage rape victim whose attackers were set free after being ordered to cut grass as punishment for their crimes.
 
Regional associate for FEMNET’s Men to Men program in Kenya, Kennedy Otina, was among the protesters that day. He says that growing up, he acted like a “typical African man” with little respect for women.
 
Then, his girlfriend became pregnant and everything changed.
 
“The lady eventually gave birth to a baby girl and that is where it was a turning point, because my daughter was so innocent and I was just imagining if I am the one who was discriminating [against] her to that extent, what would happen to the man next door, who does not have much connection to the girl?” asked Otina.
 
Otina now works in the community to raise awareness of sexual violence. Some of the programs deliberately target perpetrators, and offer counseling to men involved in these crimes.
 
He said some men mistakenly misinterpret the Men to Men program as some sort of advocacy center that will help defend male perpetrators.
 
Otina welcomes that misperception, if only because it gives him a chance to have contact with those responsible for violence.
 
"When there is a case in court then they tend to think or assume that we will be the ones to defend them, to support them in court, but you know when they get to us, we help them understand that violence against women is not acceptable,” explained Otina.
 
Otina said the key to reaching men on the issue of gender equality and gender-based violence is to relate it to the women who are important in their life, like a sister, an aunt or a grandmother.
 
Once you bring that to their attention, he said, the process of engagement can begin.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid