MASERU — Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) tends to be associated with women being on the receiving end of injustice by men.
Lately however, Sesotho Media and Development (SM&D), a local non-governmental organisation founded in 1999, has observed a need to engage men on issues of SGBV to break the silence, reduce stigma, discrimination and shame brought by sexual and gender based violations.
Communication processes need to be put at the service of the marginalised groups, said ’Mamolefe Petlane who is the Resource Centre Coordinator and Admistrator at SM&D.
Last week SM&D visited Thaba Tseka at Mohlanapeng village where the film screenings were specifically targeted at men only.
Two documentary films were selected to fit the SGBV issue being; Colour of Gold which displays the life of men in the mines and the challenges they are faced with, and Gold Widows which displays the struggles of women in the absence of their husbands.
President of Pitsi Mphepe ke o fepe, David Tšolo and the village counsellor for Mohlanapeng Maile Maile concurred with SM&D on the need to engage the community on SGBV issues.
SM&D embarked on engaging men in the SGVB dialogue as leaders and protectors of Basotho communities in an effort to promote equal rights among women and men in the dialogue and to empower victims to understand their rights, make informed decisions, and claim their rights to access resources and justice.
The NGO’s approach is to engage audiences through film screenings and discussions, which are guided through four stages of a learning cycle: Watching a documentary film, reflection on direct experience, contextualising direct experience (looking at the bigger picture), and the way forward (action) by trained facilitators.
This sets a platform for open dialogues that are not accusatory but will assist Basotho from all walks of life to be aware and understand serious health, emotional, physical and economic implications for victims of SGBV which will then enable communities to come up with strategies that will reduce SGVB and move beyond the phenomena.
The SM&D team was at Mohlanapeng for two days where Lesotho Horseracing was conducting a race to commemorate the Prince Lerotholi’s birthday.
Saturday night was the night of aptitude where men engaged in SGBV issues, discussing real life challenges that men face that lead them to be both perpetrators and victims of SGVB.
Their accounts were colourful and bold during the discussions after the screenings.
Interestingly, the community at Mohlanapeng realised the need as men to be in the front line in advocating and addressing SGBV issues and coming up with solutions that will help in reducing the rate of SGBV.
Most men at the meeting said often men are in fact victims, having to put up with verbal abuse to a point where they end up losing it leading to them beating up their spouses.
Maile strongly urged the men of his village to join hands with SM&D in reducing the escalating rate of SGBV.
“Sesotho Media and Development does not impose solutions to the participants rather it works tirelessly with the community to dispel and facilitate advocacy against stigma and discrimination of minority groups to help them make their own guided solutions.” said Petlane.