Young men from various community stakeholders held a peaceful walk last week to protest against the scourge of gender-based violence.
The walk, which was spearheaded by Baphumelele Children’s Home in conjunction with Brotherhood Lane, the Mayambela Foundation and Hilltop Spar, was aimed at calling men to raise their voices and denounce the abuse of women and children.
Dressed in black and armed with placards, the group gathered at Harare Square before marching to Harare police station and Khayelitsha court on Friday August 7.
Rehabile Sonibare, project manager for social behaviour change at Baphumelele Children’s Home, said the initiative aimed to encourage men to be key partners in ending gender-based violence.
This, she said, was an emotional call to action for men in every corner to step up and be role models in their communities.
She said they were tired of hearing stories of women being beaten up by their husbands or young girls being raped and murdered at the hands of their loved ones.
That, she said, must come to an end.
Dr Sonibare said it is time for men across the country to be agents of change in their communities.
But she said they also wanted men to speak up and confess when they had done something wrong and wanted to make amends and be part of a positive change.
As part of celebrating Women’s Month, she said, they wanted to appeal to the conscience of men so that they could refrain from abusing and victimising women and children.
Through the walk, she said they also wanted to commemorate the lives of those who had lost their lives at the hands of of men. “Men, stop your senseless act of abusing women and children. How do you mistreat someone that you claim to love and care about. It is not okay to beat up your girlfriend and it should never be accepted.
“For us to have communities that are safe and economically active where everybody feels like a citizen and equally supported, everybody needs to take a stand. It is not okay for women not to feel safe in their communities. It is not okay that women fear going to work and shops. This is a call for action. It is okay to change your ways now and it is never too late,” she said.
Mark Mayambela, founder of the Mayambela Foundation, said they wanted to add their voice and raise awareness about gender-based violence during Women’s Month.
He said the initiative’s aim is to hold men accountable for their actions and create a violence-free community.
He said it was time for men to take collective responsibility for their shameful action as they had been quiet for too long.
Founder of Brotherhood Lane, Mcebisi Dyasi, said it is time for men to lead by example and demonstrate leadership qualities. He said as an organisation they felt that it was fitting that they add their voice in this fight.