By Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer
A group of men at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) are taking a firm stance against gender-based violence (GBV), gender inequality, femicide and homophobia.
As part of 16 Days of Activism Against the Abuse of Women and Children, Men of Virtue (MOV) addressed youth offenders at Westville Prison; partnered with the UKZN Westville campus Rewards Service Department to sign a pledge; and attended a march held by LifeLine in Cape Town.
Hosted by Westville Correctional Services, the event at Westville Prison on November 29 served to motivate offenders aged between 18 and 25 on their path to rehabilitation, in an effort to end violence against women and children.
Sharing the podium with motivational speakers as well as religious and community leaders, MOV chairperson, Sanele Zuma outlined that the purpose of the organisation was to see men take an active role in the fight against GBV. “It’s a group committed to the fight against GBV – it’s men calling each other out. It’s a matter of taking responsibility,” he said.
Zuma emphasised that men can also be victims, and encouraged the young offenders to seek help from psychologists and social workers at the prison. “We can be problems, but we can also be victims. We also need to check our traumas. It’s tough being a man, as you need to be strong for everyone,” said Zuma.
The event included musical, dance and poetry items by offenders; and the programme director role was impressively handled by one of the offenders.
Head of Security at the Youth Centre, M Chamane encouraged the young offenders to grasp all opportunities availed to them and emphasised that once they leave the prison, they must make the right decisions so that they do not return.
The MOV also partnered with the UKZN Westville campus Rewards Services Department, where the men in the department had expressed interest in taking a pledge against GBV to commemorate 16 Days of Activism Against the Abuse of Women and Children. The Rewards Services team is the first department to take the GBV male pledge after it was launched in September 2022.
Representing men in the Rewards Services Department, Raymond Parkies signed the pledge with Zuma on November 29, as a visible testament to their commitment to the fight against GBV.
Parkies said that the abuse of women and children was a major concern in South Africa, and underscored the importance of men in the department raising their voices against GBV.
Zuma commended the male staff in the Rewards Services Department for taking the pledge; but added that this was just the beginning as MOV intended to see more departments, student organisations and structures taking the pledge. “We want to see all men at this institution commit to the protection of women,” said Zuma.
MOV had earlier joined LifeLine on a march held on November 25 in Cape Town, where a memorandum was handed to government, appealing for it to amend legislation in order to curb violence against women and children.