Men suffer too

Marchers took to the streets of Mfuleni before handing over a memorandum to Blue Downs Magistrate's Court.

Vuyani Senti (not his real name) is a victim of gender-based violence from Mfuleni.

The 40-year-old father of three wants to speak out about men being abused by their partners.

On Monday November 25, he joined marchers in Mfuleni to protest against the scourge and mark the start of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign.

The march to Blue Downs Magistrate’s Court was organised by staff of the Social Development Metro East region, to encourage the court to be harsh on perpetrators of gender-based violence.

Mr Senti told Vukani that many men are living under abusive conditions.

He said there is a myth in the country that men are the only ones being abusive, “simply because of the spate of attacks against women”. “Men are quiet about what they go through. The cause is the law. The law is not on our side. You go to the police station and report your wife and come tell me the experience you will receive. You will come out hating yourself.”

He said there is a crisis when it comes to gender-based violence which is why he joined the march.

In commending the organisers, he said abusers, irrespective of gender, should be held accountable for their actions. “Stop pointing fingers at one side when we are all victims. Men are victims just like women are. I have scars of physical abuse on my body. I am not alone in this. A lot of men are living in fear of their wives. What does the law do? Laugh at us and make women as the only victims. It is a sad state of affairs,” he said.

He warned that if the abuse is not acknowledged, people could end up dead.

“Men are mentally depressed. I am part of this march so that perpetrators, women and men, can be dealt with. If this is not happening, we are still going to see more deaths,” he warned.

The Social Development Metro East Region temporarily downed tools for the day to raise awareness on the effects of gender-based violence.

Nearly 300 staff, including non-governmental and non-profit organisations, dressed in different uniforms marched through the streets of Mfuleni to the court to submit a memorandum against the scourge of gender-based violence.

Marchers committed themselves to fight the scourge and to help the victims report the perpetrators.

Xolani Dodi, victim empowerment programme officer at Social Development, said the march sought to encourage the court to be stricter on perpetrators.

“All we want is action against perpetrators. We have seen a lot of gender-based cases especially in Mfuleni and we are against that. We believe the justice system should be harsh on perpetrators. They should also protect the witnesses. People refuse to come forward because they are scared.”

He said they also aimed to reinforce the call to the community to stop the violence and killing of women and children. He encouraged the community to stand firm against gender-based violence regardless of who it is happening to.

In the memorandum Social Development demanded the support of police.