Gender equality – more than just words

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August 24, 2016 by Student 24/7 Blog

The rights of men and their equal standing to women was the main issue on the agenda at the ‘Monna tseba: Men’s rights are human rights’ seminar, which took place recently at the North-West University Vaal Triangle Campus (NWU Vaal).

The seminar was organised by the fourth year BA Social Work students as part of their internship at the Department of Student Counselling and Development (SCD) on campus. One of the aspects covered during the internship was community projects, and as such the “Monna tseba: Men;s rights are human rights” seminar came to be.

This event targeted mainly male students, and focused on men’s rights by highlighting the importance of understanding and claiming their rights. According to the organisers, the event was motivated by the fact that, in practice, not much attention is given to men’s rights, even though men face the same social injustices that women do: rape, domestic violence, single parenting and unfair child support, divorce custody and sexism.

Speaking on behalf of the organising team, Ms. Dieketseng Ramaseli (a student) said that by focusing on these social injustices men are motivated to take heed from the services and information available to them. Events such as this creates awareness and a sense of unity with regards to the community. “More often than not, the society at large regards men as being strong, masculine and unmoved. Statistically, it has been proven that this often leads to men being discriminated against and henceforth it is a challenge for men to report abuse – be it physically, sexually or any other form of abuse”, she adds.”  

A deeper look into sexual violence

Addressing the group of over a hundred young men, Mr Rees Mann of the South African Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse (SAMSOSA) shared his knowledge and experience of sexual violence with the students. During his presentation he cited alarming rape statistics and explained that South Africa has earned the dubious title of “rape capital of the world”. He says there has been much controversy around this statement, but he believes that the country has unacceptably high levels of rape.

“People are not aware of the extent of the problem when it comes to male victims. It is not spoken about, and men do not even want to tell their wives. With the recent police statistics it was revealed that 19% of all sexual abuse cases were male victims,” he adds. Mann, who’s eyes increasingly got teary as he delved deeper into the reality of sexual violence, said this crisis (male rape and sexual abuse) is something that is not talked about very often, if it all. “The rape and sexual abuse of both adult and young men around the world has been so greatly ignored, disrespected and discounted for, that it has created a major misconception that such an occurrence does not exist.”

He concluded by saying that the problem is aggravated by the fact that male rape is an unspoken crime and victims suffer in silence

Other topics covered during the seminar included: 

  • Domestic violence  by Mr. Alwyn Burger (Community Development Specialist) and Ms Melanie van Aswegen (admitted Attorney)
  • Reproductive choice and DNA testing by Ms. Melanie van Aswegen (Admitted Attorney)
  • Men’s health by Mrs. Boitumelo Phinithi (Nurse: Campus Clinic)
  • Divorce, Care & Contact and Maintenance by Mr. Alwyn Burger and Ms. Melanie van Aswegen

* Rees Mann founded SAMSOSA out of his own experience.

Written by: Dumile Mlambo (NWU Vaal Corporate Communication)

 

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