Independent Online

Friday, May 20, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

Cape Town’s battered men

Lucinda Evans opened a Safe House for Men in Cape Town in an effort to raise awareness around GBV and men who fall victim to it Picture - Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Lucinda Evans opened a Safe House for Men in Cape Town in an effort to raise awareness around GBV and men who fall victim to it Picture - Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 21, 2021


THE stereotype “men don’t cry” is harmful and detrimental in the fight against abuse of men and boys, warn gender-based violence activists.

This is the sentiment of gender-based violence activist Lucinda Evans who has opened a safe house for abused men and LGBTQ+ people.

Story continues below Advertisement

“The problem with society is that we always tell our young boys that ‘boys and men don’t cry’ and this is why we sit with problems that we faced with today, such as abused men, who are afraid to speak out,” said Evans.

November, the Men’s Awareness Health Month, usually focuses on the body but what of men and boys who suffer abuse. Domestic abuse against men can take the form of physical violence, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse.

But abuse among men is under reported or men find it difficult to seek help because of society stereotypes such as “men can handle the punch, are not sissies and don't need help”.

Story continues below Advertisement

It is for this reason that Evans, decided to open the safe house.

Lucinda Evans opened a Safe House for Men in Cape Town in an effort to raise awareness around GBV and men who fall victim to it Picture - Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

The safe house, which will be located in the greater Retreat area, will officially start taking in people from Friday.

Evans explained that the project made her dig deep within her own insecurities to come to a point of realisation.

Story continues below Advertisement

“I asked myself, what does it mean to be a gender-based activist? I always spoke about truth to power. The truth is that abuse in men is the same as abuse in women and children. It's just that they have a penis and not a vagina.”

Evans said that’s when she realised that she wasn't doing enough to advocate for the opposite sex.

“They (men) also have the same rights as women and when they get abused its that same rights that gets violated and most of the time they don’t have that ear who listens to them, or they are faced with a stigma of having to take the blow like a man, or being called a m*ffie.

Story continues below Advertisement

“The point is gender-based violence doesn't identify with a certain genitalia, it doesn't choose and neither should we.”

Sandy Schuter-Flowers, Strandfontein CPF chairperson, who works with many victims agreed with Evans, adding that more needed to be done to break the stigma around abused men.

“We are not watering down domestic abuse in women and also children, we are just saying that the situation at hand is also very real and needs to be noticed.

“Very rarely do we find that crimes against men are being spoken about and its because everyone presumes they should take the pain like a ’man’.”

Strandfontein CPF chairperson, Sandy Schuter Flowers says she is happy about the safe house that is opening. Picture supplied

Schuter-Flowers added that she also dealt with many cases where men were not only being verbally and physically abused, but also mentally and emotionally.

“Men also get body shamed, get told they are too fat, that they have small penises, or that they are ugly ... this leaves emotional scarring, just as it does for women.

“This is why we have a desk at the Strandfontein police station where we are open to any case of domestic violence or abuse, whether you are a female, male or belong to the LGBTQ+ community.

“Abuse is not only physical, it is emotional, verbal and mental and its a violation of ones human rights, regardless of your gender.”

A man who survived abuse explained that things started getting bad when he lost his job due to the pandemic.

He said that his wife started calling him names, saying he was useless and also denied him access to the toilet or food.

He said that his wife took out a protection order against him because he urinated in the yard and when he tried to do the same, the police refused.

The man now lives in his car and has to wait until next year to state his case in court with regards to his wife’s interdict.

Schuter-Flowers said this was why it’s important that men also have safe houses.

“I want to know is there help for men, like there’s help for women? How do they prove that they getting abused? And where do they go to when they are abused or thrown out?

“That is why I can say with a thankful heart to Lucinda, that she is doing the right thing and taking the right steps, because she is not only talking but also walking!”

SA Human Rights Commissioner Chris Nissen. Picture Henk Kruger ANA

Western Cape Commissioner for the South African Human Rights Commission, Chris Nissen said the problem was also because SA was a dysfunctional society where violence had become a norm.

“Again we don't push aside how big of a problem violence against women and children is, but we also have to admit that there are men and members of the LGBTQIA+ community who experience domestic violence.

“Mainly we see economic factors play a role here, but we also have to look at how we raise our boys and girls. We need to change the stigma that boys don't cry and we need to stop withdrawing cases against our abusers.

“The point is, any violence, against anyone is a criminal offence,” said Nissen.

The safe house will operate on basis of referrals and will be a place of healing to victims for seven days before they move to a more permanent shelter.