Men of Virtue Lead Campaign Against GBV During 16 Days of Activism
A group of men at the University of KwaZulu-Natal are taking a firm stance against gender-based violence (GBV), gender inequality, femicide, and homophobia.
As part of 16 Days of Activism Against the Abuse of Women and Children, the Men of Virtue (MOV) addressed youth offenders at Westville Prison, partnered with UKZN Westville campuses’ Rewards Service Department to sign a pledge, and also attended a march held by LifeLine in Cape Town in November.
Hosted by Westville Correctional Services, the event at Westville Prison served to motivate offenders (aged 18 – 25) on their path to rehabilitation in an effort to end violence against women and children.
Sharing the podium with motivational speakers and religious and community leaders, the Chairperson of MOV, Mr Sanele Zuma, outlined the purpose of the organisation which is to see men take an active role in the fight against GBV. ‘It’s a group committed to the fight against GBV – it’s men calling each other out. It’s a matter of taking responsibility,’ he said.
Zuma emphasised that men can also be victims and encouraged the young offenders to seek help from psychologists and social workers at the prison. ‘We can be problems, but we can also be victims. We also need to check our traumas. It’s tough being a man as you need to be strong for everyone,’ said Zuma.
The event included musical, dance and poetry items by offenders and the programme director was impressively handled by one of the offenders.
Head of Security at the Youth Centre, Mr M Chamane encouraged the young offenders to grasp all opportunities availed to them and emphasised that once they leave the prison, they must make the right decisions so that they do not return to prison.
The MOV also partnered with UKZN Westville campuses’ Rewards Services Department where the men in the Department had expressed interest in taking a pledge against GBV to commemorate 16 Days of Activism Against the Abuse of Women and Children. The Rewards Services team is the first department to take the GBV male pledge after it was launched in September 2022.
Reward Services’ Mr Raymond Parkies said that the abuse of women and children is a major concern in South Africa and underscored the importance of men in the Department raising their voices against GBV.
Representing men in the Rewards Services Department, Parkies signed the pledge with Zuma as a visible testament to their commitment to the fight against GBV.
Zuma commended the male staff in the Rewards Services Department for taking the pledge, but added that this is just the beginning as MOV intends to see more departments, student organisations and structures taking this pledge. ‘We want to see all men at this Institution commit to the protection of women,’ said Zuma.
MOV had earlier joined LifeLine on a march held on 25 November in Cape Town where a memorandum was handed to government, appealing to the State to amend legislation to curb violence against women and children.
Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer
Photographs: Andile Dube and Supplied