OPINION: We, as men, should not remain quiet about abuse

Columnist Phiri Cawe.

Is a man somebody who wears pants or is it more than that? Why does a boy go to the mountain (initiation school) as a non-smoker and come back as a heavy smoker? What makes a man rape and kill?

These are just some of the questions that I have as the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign comes to an end.

For some reason many incidents and crimes against women seem to happen during this time – or perhaps there’s just more focus on them. Remember this is a campaign that is meant to raise awareness on such issues. It should also be a time where women and children should feel safe but instead, they experience their fair share of tragedy.

As a man I feel we should be irate about these crimes and it is about time men start making a bigger noise about them. Whenever these incidents happen, like the recent one in former Transkei where a man axed four kids and their mom to death.

While I feel we, as men, are too quiet on these issues, there are some out there who have taken up the fight and are trying very hard to fight the scourge. That said, however, they are outnumbered by the millions who remain quiet, sit back and do nothing.

The sad thing is that we don’t even have to work hard to remember the incidents. There are so many of them. Last week, an old woman was raped and killed in Lower Crossroads. She was alone at home. The criminals had time to dig at the back of her shack, get in, rape and kill the poor woman. While I have no proof, it’s unlikely she was raped by other women. It’s almost certain the perpetrators were men. And so, when crimes like these happen, we should ask what is wrong with the men in our society rather than criticising the campaign for being ineffective.

Many would even ask if we really need the campaign. But what we forget to say is that we are folding our arms, doing nothing. Most only cry when it hits close to home. But it should not be like that. Men should lead the campaign. Men should talk to men. Men should be real men who care about their families, children, aunts, sisters and girlfriends. However, talking and these events alone are not enough. Our law enforcement agencies should be helped to arrest these criminals.

To those men who are working toward change, I thank you and encourage you to continue what you’re doing.

This December and beyond, please do good no matter what. There will be times when people will make you question yourself, your beliefs, your good ways, your deeds but ungavumi (do not give up). To all men, let’s endeavour to do good this festive season and beyond.