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This year the focus of Independent Media's annual #dontlookaway campaign during the 16 days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children is #talk2yourboys. The goal is to focus on the male youth, educate and teach boys to become better men and in so doing, break the cycle of gender-based violence. Today we are talking to husbands and boyfriends.

Dear husbands and boyfriends 

  • Do you dismiss your wife/girlfriend’s opinion and resort to demeaning her? 
  • Do you belittle and demean your wife/girlfriend in public and at home? 
  • Do you make verbal threats to use violence against your wife/girlfriend during heated arguments, and accuse her of provoking you? 
  • Do you believe that only you have control over finances and decisions, and it is solely your wife’s duty to take care of the kids and to run the home? 
  • Do you believe that it is your job to control your wife/girlfriend, that she belongs to you? 
  • Do you fail to give your wife/girlfriend your undivided attention when she needs it, and dismiss her insecurities as frivolous? 
  • Do you fail to show your wife/girlfriend that her well-being is of utmost importance to you? 
  • Do you accuse your wife/girlfriend of being a nag when she tells you things that are in your best interests? 
  • Do you turn away and fail to try and resolve an issue, and shut her out after an argument? 
  • Do you see apologising as a sign of weakness?  

Husbands and boyfriends are entrusted with something very special when relationships are formed and when marriages take place. Partners equally put their love, their hearts, their trust, well-being and faith in the other person. 

All too often, though, and especially in South Africa, toxic masculinity takes hold and abuse starts. This toxicity feeds on stereotypes and weak male self-esteem, and festers into the brutality of gender-based violence that quickly finds expression in femicide. 

South Africa is experiencing a GBV pandemic, the list of victims is escalating alarmingly, and women are living in shock and fear. 

The one place that women should be safe and feel safe is with their partners, whether at home or out on the town, whether in public or alone in privacy. 

Domestic violence is used to gain and maintain total control over someone. An abuser uses fear, guilt, shame and intimidation to wear down and keep their partner under their thumb. Assault or battering is a crime and should never be taken lightly. 

If you have ticked any number of the above questions, now is a good time to do some self-reflection, because it is never too late to change. #dontlookaway.

Take the husband or boyfriend pledge

My love, 

I have made many promises in my life, some made to others, and some made to myself, but this pledge is to you, alone. 

I make this pledge in the full knowledge that my words need to be translated into actions each day, and I want my actions to always have your best interests at heart. 

I pledge to always try to see things from your perspective, to understand your insecurities or issues, and to never dismiss them as frivolous. 

I pledge not to allow my own insecurities to interfere with your feelings, but to engage constructively with you so that we can share full understanding. 

I promise not to demean you in arguments, or make arguments personal by insulting you. 

Just as importantly, I pledge that we will never go to bed angry or leave a disagreement between us unresolved. 

Most crucially, I love you, and I will ensure that you never have to fear my conduct, never fear that I might use violence against you. 

I will never physically abuse you or hurt you, I promise. 

And if at any point I falter and you feel I have verbally abused you, I will listen and learn, because I love you. 

And I will never take for granted that we are together out of love.

Signed: Your partner

* GET INVOLVED! Share your thoughts on toxic masculinity and how it affects our society via Whatsapp on 074 557 3535 or join the conversation on social media using using the hashtags #DontLookAway and #talk2yourboys.