Swaziland, we have been CHALLENGED.
On Sunday the 2nd of July in the Sunday Times Newspaper, there was an article that caught the attention of many, and rightly so. Police have released figures on Gender Based Violence (GBV) and its effects on individuals, the community and our great country as a whole. The article stated that since 2015, there has been 5232 cases of GBV reported, where more than 1000 are of rape, and 75 of murder. We at Kwakha Indvodza are used to reading horrific statistics, but this level of violence and abuse is truly shocking, especially when we consider the unknown number of unreported cases kept quiet by victims, or their families, or their communities. Kwakha Indvodza asks, in response to this article: how many of these thousands of cases were perpetrated by a woman? The answer is very, very few. We must engage men and boys if we are to realise the National Commissioner of Royal Swazi Police, Isaacs Magagula’s call to arms with a fresh new battle plan.
In the search for gender equality in Swaziland, most of the work has been centred on women. As important as that has been, men, the perpetrators of such anti-social, illegal abuse,have been left out of the picture for far too long. In trying to prompt and enact effective long-lasting change, the entire society must be included. We must scream out with one voice, against the social systems which keep our women afraid, and our men to blame. As one proverb once put it “if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”. In the Sunday article, the Commissioner made the appeal loud and clear: men need to be involved.
Kwakha Indvodza is a male mentoring non-profit organization, KI specializes in community-led, high-impact interventions with men and boys. Through a winning curriculum of financial independence, male health and social responsibility activities, KI creates resilient, healthy, gender-equal change-makers who will in turn mentor and grow other men and women in their communities.
KI’s programmes offer 15-29 year old men a range of services including life skills training, counselling, business/careers coaching and study groups, as well access to health and social services, thereby attempting to mitigate some of the root causes of violence and poor health we face as a country. By working with men In such positive behaviour change programmes, we believe that we can prevent such cases from happening in the first place, complementing the work of others who care for survivors and ensure that such cases are brought to court.
Commissioner Magagula called to the public and health facilities to have forums like those created by Kwakha Indvodza’s where a positive third space is created between young men and various mentors who openly talk to our emajaha about violence, male health, social responsibility and financial independence.
Moreover, Kwakha Indvodza has given birth to a campaign called Emachawe Asekhaya where KI seeks to reduce the incidence of gender based violence cases in relation to HIV through interrogating and redefining potentially harmful images of masculinity and promoting positive male role models. If we are going to end violence against women and children, we must address these harmful, dangerous images of masculinity, of what a man should and shouldn’t do. Working close in collaboration with partners such as the Ministry of Health, Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, CHAPS and NERCHA and regional partners such as UN agencies, Sonke Gender Justice and Men Engage Africa, KI believes that such an approach is the key to addressing the negative images and socio-cultural expectations of masculinity which is a well-documented driver of increased HIV incidence, GBV, family unit instability and poor health outcomes.
Through demonstrating and celebrating good men as role models for Swazi adolescent boys and men to aspire towards, this campaign will contribute to the national targets of reduced gender based violence and HIV incidence rates, as well as increasing effective couple communication, family-based health seeking behaviour and advocating in health systems to be male friendly.
In the quest for a better and safer tomorrow, we all must pack our bags with knowledge, and embark on the journey that reduces GBV, sisonkhe sibantfu banye. We at KI are offering a platform where we can all rise up to the challenge, that, according to the article, will also mitigate related suicides, broken families, and possible future perpetrations by previous as well as new offenders. Together we can change, together we can write a new story about a peaceful tomorrow,, together we can collectively say: “Mr Commissioner: Challenge Accepted.”
By Nosipho Dlamini and Anesu Makufa.