Monday, 28 October 2013

Men and boys as allies for the cause of women's rights

In these days and times when sexual violence and gender-based violence is so rampant, one wonders if the onus solely lies on women to do or not do something to avoid mistreatment. Sure, it feels like that. But it takes two hands to clap, and the fact of the matter remains that there is an imminent need for men and boys to be as involved and engaged in the process of protecting women and their rights as it is for women themselves. 

While there is every ounce of pragmatism in involving women in any program that aspires to keep sexual violence and rape at bay, there is an added degree of prudence in involving men, as well. Rape and sexual violence of any form turn a woman’s body into a battleground. With many women facing the same predicament unconditionally, there is a gradual culmination in the degeneration of the social fabric of the nation, and slowly, the world. Teaching your girls not to get raped becomes priority, and people forget that it is as important to teach your boys not to rape. Sexual violence soon becomes the "best" weapon in conflict is because when the bodies of women become battlegrounds, the future of the country is lost- women are stigmatized, so the social institutions of families and procreative alliances breakdown. Men must be involved in the process of reconstruction by making them realize and understand the fact that there is no wrong on part of the women themselves for having been subjected to rape.

So what needs to be done?

The ideal starting point is to inculcate understanding as to why rape is such an "effective" form of terrorism and genocide. Men must be made taught to understand that Rape does not only affect women but also their children, or, as the case may be, future children. Families must be able to understand the fact that rape has ramifications that affect them as well. Rape and Sexual Violence prevents mothers and wives from fulfilling their normal roles, it disrupts relationships between a husband and wife through the intervention of a spurious worm of distrust. Children suffer consequences as well, and when this happens throughout an entire community it then disrupts normal function of all contributors to that particular economy.

Another issue that must be taken into consideration is that in cases of sexual violence rarely do programs focus on the effect the incident has on men and their psyche. For starters, it is vital that the responsibility quotient or the blame factor should be tackled. There may be instances where men may feel they wronged their sisters, or daughters, or wives or mothers by not stopping them from being subjected to rape.

The relevance of this modus operandi in today’s context comes from the understanding of one point: that everything- be it culture or gender, is learned by imbibitions. When that is the case, if there is a culture of silence and impunity, it only breeds the birth of more harm. Men must not see women who are already raped as easy targets, because, well, they've already been raped. Significantly, it is also a very valid premise to understand that men must be involved in a program that understands that they also have been victimised.

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