GBV – Young men have their say

Boitumelo Maswabi

The ongoing global 16 days of activism campaign would lead many to think there’d be less reports of gender-based violence (GBV) during this period, however, the opposite is true.

Research indicates that men are likely to be the perpetrators, and a Gender Links GBV Indicators Study of 2012, which found that misogyny in Botswana is to blame for this, and sadly, young men aren’t aware peers often encourage this hostility towards women.

Voice Woman sought to find out from young men whether they neglect to condemn sexist behaviour thus condone abusive tendencies that perpetuate GBV by their friends.

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Kgosi Dilotsotlhe, 22, Kanye

I was not aware the 16 days activism was underway. I can never turn a blind eye to wayward behaviour of any kind, though I can’t change anyone. Gender-based violence is indeed on the increase. Maybe I’m guilty for not always calling out chauvinism. Personally, I have never abused or harassed a woman and I do not understand why some men do that. I can only advise men to stop abusing women.

Oteng Saudi, 25, Phitsane

I have never abused a woman, even my own sisters or cousins. I’ve one message for abusers: stop beating up women, they’re vulnerable! Any form of violation is unacceptable.

The only confusion I have is that I believe cat-calling is harmless. I mean, whenever I see a beautiful lady, I want to complement them on their beauty, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Of course, groping is wrong, though I am guilty of catcalling, I can never cross that line and start grabbing ladies. Honestly, I do not consider catcalling a violation, but I’ll start respecting women, definitely. I steer clear of violent guys, always!

Tight at the top

Marumo Leemo, 25, Phitsane

Incidents of gender-based violence, or simply put, sexism, are rife in this country. Take for example the sort of harassment women experience at the hands of men at drinking holes or just in the street; it’s unacceptable, and because nowadays people are unpredictable, I’d be careful not to intervene as I might get stabbed for coming to the female’s rescue.

I can only reprimand the aggressor if it is a friend. Issues of GBV are usually biased towards women yet men also suffer. As it is, my baby mama abuses me, both psychologically and physically. For instance, she threatens and uses my son to blackmail me into doing anything she wishes. She says, “Kana wena o sematla, ke kgona go raya mapodise kere o nthubeditse. (You are so docile, I can easily lie to the police that you raped me).”

I was smart enough to record her and presented the evidence to the police. Shockingly, before they listened to the recording, she had already lied that I had assaulted her, and the police were quick to react; they actually believed her and threatened to lock me up. Eventually, the police decided to reconcile us, and I forgave her for the sake of my child. However, recently, she was aggrieved that I gave her less money for the child.

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She wouldn’t accept that I had just relocated to Gabz where I have to pay rent, so she came and dumped the child at my place. Thankfully, her sister came to pick up the child. So, I want to know, is that not abuse? Look at my scars, she bit me a while back, and that’s when I ended the relationship because her parents also let me down. When I went back to report the abuse, the police ridiculed me and one said, “What a weakling of a man! Why didn’t you slap her?” I knew he’d lead me to commit a crime only to incarcerate me.

Tlotlang Baemesi, 23, Mahalapye

I have never violated a woman in anyway, and I’m happy to report that, unlike my colleague here, I have never been a victim either. I overheard you say catcalling is harassment, or a violation. We young guys consider it harmless and expect women to firmly object to it if they are uncomfortable with it.

Women also catcall; hence we see no wrong in it. My biggest gripe is that women seem to enjoy more rights than men; in my opinion, there’s no fairness when it comes to GBV. It is even evident in how our law enforcement officers deride men who report abuse.

Anonymous, 38, Gaborone

We tend to take it for granted that some of our behaviours towards our ladies are not necessarily violations; like groping, catcalling and blowing kisses to total strangers, that’s where the problem lies. In terms of physical and sexual abuse, I don’t consider myself abrasive in anyway, hence if I always walk away from trouble, neither am I anywhere close to misogynistic.

Some women are verbally abusive and the only way to avoid disaster is to either ignore the rants or leave. It is a piece of advice I always share with friends. First of all, physically, a woman is weaker, so any man who goes into a physical fight with a woman isn’t smart. A man must master emotional intelligence to handle confrontation, lest they find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

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