A woman is murdered every three hours in South Africa, and many are assaulted and raped before their death.
Some of these casualties made headlines this year: Uyinene Mrwetyana, 19, was raped and killed by a male post office employee; boxing champion Leighandre Jegels was killed by her ex-boyfriend who had a protection order against him; Janika Mallo, 14, was gang-raped, her head bashed in with a concrete block; Jesse Hess, Precious Ramabulana… the list literally goes on and on.
Protests and hashtags have come and gone, yet a war against South Africa’s women continues to be waged – the war crimes are almost unilaterally committed by men, and its violence is gender-based. While both men and women are victims of gender-based violence, it is overwhelming perpetrated by men, and primarily directed against women and girls.
Gender-based violence – whether assault, rape, and murder – is violence that is directed against a person because of their gender. It is deeply rooted in patriarchy (the idea that men are superior to women); fundamentally, gender-based violence stems from an abuse of power.
A 2010 study revealed that most South African men who rape do so for the first time as teenagers, and almost all men who ever rape do so by their mid-20s. Reasons for rape ranged from men having a sense of sexual entitlement and boredom, to rape being seen as a punishment against women.
To end gender-based violence boys need to be taught that they are equal to women, and that they cannot assert their dominance through violence; most importantly, they need a healthy understanding of what it means to be a man.
Mentor a Boy Child is a non-profit organisation (NPO) that aims to instill healthy masculinity in young boys so that they can become well-rounded men – men who contribute to society, and not wage war against it. The NPO currently has a pilot mentorship programme where 60 boys from a vulnerable community have been given access to positive male role models – at the end of the programme these boys will become role models themselves, and then pay it forward to the next cohort.
During the 2019 Sandton Shutdown protest against femicide, a woman was quoted by Voice of America saying: “Instead of you [men] taking a life or instead of you [men] raping a woman, seek help. Do not allow it to grow to a point where you no longer see me as a human being.”
Mentor a Boy Child hopes to do just that – to provide a platform for boys to never reach that point in the first place.
Do you want to help boys grow into healthy, well-rounded men? Contact Mentor a Boy Child for more information.