Members of Rise Up Against Gender-based Violence are rising up and saying no to gender-based violence towards women and children. They are literally going from tavern to tavern on a mission to tell men to stop the abuse.
Mandisa Khanyile, the Fund-raising Director for the NPO, says the idea to reach out to men in the tavern environment has been a necessary and eye-opening experience.”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,” said Khanyile.
According to Khanyile, there is a need for initiatives to have a social behavioural change programme that not only engages the survivors, but also speaks to potential perpetrators to try and change the harmful social norms and practices and increase prevention instead of only dealing with the response.” 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,” she added.
In collaboration with the Distell Group Limited, the first leg of talks 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 facilitators offer talks on issues of consent during sex, maintaining healthy relationships and anger management.
Although initially hesitant to take part in the three-hour sessions, Khanyile confirmed that with time some men eventually started opening up about their experiences and realised some of their own toxic behaviours. She said witnessing men in taverns realising they, too, may have violated someone was what made it worthwhile.
Rise Up Against Gender-based Violence consists of trained facilitators in Gauteng, who have assisted with the safe evacuation of women through an emergency line that resists alerting their abusers. Khanyile says this is 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 noted.
The next leg of the sessions will be held next month in the Western Cape, which according to Khanyile is the second biggest area battling high cases of gender-based violence.