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Daily Nation : February 19th 2014
2 BY VERAH OKEYO firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: VerahOkeyo gender-based violence. The army of local and international organisations crusading against this atrocity have two annoying points of reference when referring to Kenya: one, that 45 per cent of young women have experienced gender-based violence at some point in their lives; and, two, that 90 per cent of those who inflicted that pain on them were men. This, sadly, is true. And so, given A that these figures were arrived at after scientific research, the female of the species is getting a bit uncomfortable with the male, and in the process developing rather colourful, if not coarse, adjectives and euphemisms to describe the ‘devils’ in their lives. But today, even after all those This is not a man-orwoman problem. Conflict can only be solved if both parties are brought to the discussion table, and in the case of husband and wife, both should be involved in the process. Anything lesser than that takes the adversarial victimversus-attacker approach. Dr Juliet Macharia, lecturer at Moi University years of honest and provocative discourse on violence against women — and, recently, men — all the groups championing an end to this violation of human rights still have a two-headed dragon staring back at them: the two genders are still at war, sometimes with fatal consequences; and the men are increasingly becoming apathetic to the plight of the victims because they have been collectively demonised for too long. When you push a man to the wall, they seem to be telling the crusaders, he will fight back, one way or the other. And statistics are there to prove that the fight is on: reports from the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret show that there has been a sharp increase in the number of gender-based violence reports recorded at the Centre for Assault Recovery, from 250 in 2007 to over 900 in 2010. The United Nations Women Empowerment and Gender Equality — normally referred to as UN-Women — is the most vocal body fighting for the elimination of gender-based violence in the region, and its post-mortem analysis of the figures from Eldoret has them most worried. In collaboration with other United Nations bodies, UN-Women conducted a multi-country study between 2010 and 2013 to build a nuanced understanding on why men, the traditional protectors, have turned out to be the majority tormentors, and to show how the findings from this study could be used to stop this gross violation of human rights. Gender-based violence, the researchers found out, is a complex issue involving a myriad of factors deeply engaged in culture, economy, law, and, most intractably, our cultural constructions of masculinities. While the study talked of other forms of ‘masculinities’, its major focus was the much embraced hegemonic masculinity, which conceptually explains how and why men maintain dominant social roles over women and other gender identities perceived as “feminine” in any given society. Since time immemorial, men have been seen as perpetrators or potential perpetrators of violence against women, but relatively little effort, or even none at all, has been done to understand the causes and how that understanding can be leveraged ny man, sinner or saint, Alpha Male or not, has no place to hide during these days of activism against coverstory as a primary prevention strategy. Ms Pamela Tuiyot, UN-Women’s programme specialist on matters GBV, has taken note of that, and has a bit of advice for those leading the campaign: “We need to stop pointing fingers at men and involve them in this war,” she says. “Let them carry this message to the people because women are already converted yet not much fruit has been yielded.” Dr Juliet Macharia, a communication and gender expert at Moi University, concurs, saying the vice of genderbased violence cannot be eradicated at the exclusion of any of the sexes. “This is not a man-or-woman problem,” says Dr Macharia. “Conflict can only be solved if both parties are brought to the discussion table, and in the case of husband and wife, both should be involved in the process. Anything lesser than that takes the adversarial victim-versus-attacker perspective.” Men, therefore, says Dr Macharia, need to be addressed as part of the solution, and not just the problem. It is time men are invited and challenged to critically reflect on the existence of patriarchy, male power and privilege, and to analyse the costs of those 900 Number of gender-based violence cases recorded at the Centre for Assault Recovery of Eldoret (CAR-E) in 2007. Gender-based violence, researchers have found out, is a complex issue involving a myriad of factors deeply engaged in culture, economy, law, and, most intractably, our cultural constructions of masculinities. privileges not only to women and girls, but also to fellow men and boys. Dr Macharia’s prescription for success seems to be modelled along, among others, the One Million Fathers initiative, which has been in existence since mid-2012 and seeks to consolidate all the associations and personalities against genderbased violence and collect one million signatures from men who will speak against the vice. Some of those who have appended their signatures to the cause include Chief justice Willy Mutunga and former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka. This approach of putting men at the helm of the non-violence campaign, communication experts and those who have worked with men wager, will work. Albert Wambua, director of the recovery centre at Nairobi Women’s Hospital, has seen it all, but now he is an optimistic man because, he says, reported cases of abuse have gone down in areas where the campaign has been rolled out, including Mombasa. So maybe we have been barking up the wrong tree all this time. Maybe the answer to all the gender-based violence was staring at us all the time. Maybe all we needed to do was tap into the aspects of Kenyan culture and men’s attitudes that support gender equality and healthy relationships, and voila! Dr David Katiambo, a communications expert and lecturer at the Technical University of Kenya, supports the view, arguing that “the GROUP EDITORIAL DIRECTOR: Joseph Odindo GROUP MANAGING EDITOR: Mutuma Mathiu FEATURES EDITOR: Bernard Mwinzi REVISE EDITOR: Mary Wasike SUB-EDITOR: Naliaka Wafula PHOTO EDITOR: Joan Pereruan CHIEF GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Roger Mogusu GRAPHIC DESIGNERS: Nzisa Mulli, Andrew Anini, Dennis Makori, Alice Othieno, Michael Mosota, Ken Kusimba, Hassan Ibrahim, Benjamin Situma, Joy Abisagi, Virginia Borura, Teddy Murimi, Linus Ombette REPORTER: Joy Wanja COVER GRAPHIC AND CONCEPT: Hassan ibrahim Mwera DAILY NATION Wednesday February 19, 2014 Send a thief to cath a thief: Men seen as the best soldiers in fight against domestic violence Since time immemorial, men, in the debate about gender-based violence, have been seen as perpetrators or potential perpetrators of battery against women, yet relatively little effort — or even none at all — has been made to understand the causes and how that understanding can be leveraged as a primary prevention strategy. Communication experts have taken note of that, and now say we need to stop pointing fingers at men and involve them in this war society receives messages about a cause better when it comes from a man than from a woman”. “Men who have always been seen as the villains will listen when a fellow man asks them to stop violence,” says Dr Kitiambo. “They are the predominant perpetrators of violence and their decision-making roles and power in the economic, political and social spheres necessitates their commitment to eradicating violence against women. When a man approaches a fellow man, it will look like he is apologising on behalf of the victims and challenging the men that there is more to strength than being abusive.” His views are supported by Pastor Tony Gobanga, who runs a men’s education programme at his Stones to Rubies Ministries, and who says the violence perpetrated by men has emanated from a culture that has taught the boy — and men in general — to embrace negative masculinity. This, he explains, upholds toughness, stoicism and self-reliance, often leading to emotionally dwarfed men who harm everyone around them. Considerable success of this is published every week by Nation Media Group Limited. It is distributed free with every Daily Nation. Unsolicited manuscripts, artwork, transparencies are submitted at the sender’s risk. While every care will be taken on receipt of such material, the Nation Media Group Limited cannot accept responsibility for accidental loss or damage. ©Nation Media Group Limited, 2009. All rights reserved.
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