(MENAFN- The Post)
When I was in high school, I liked two subjects, English Language and Literature English. We read this one book as a course requirement, a complication of short stories. Of the short stories, one stands out to me,“Life in the Machine.”
The author predicted that by the year 2030, everything will be operated by machines. There was an example of women no longer needing to use their hands to knead dough for bread, since there would be a machine that would do that. This seemed so far-fetched that one day we will be“Living in the Machine.”
I am reminded of that short story based on a video that has been circulated on social media this past week. A reminder that regardless of where one is in the world, news will travel to them as per predicted by“Life in the Machine,” all those years ago. The video is about an altercation between a male security guard and a female (referenced as a patron) of one of the establishments in town.
This article is neither about that man nor the disgruntled young female in the video. It is about one of the most misunderstood challenges in our society: gender-based violence.
For this article I did something unconventional to me, I consulted a dictionary. Let it be a topic for upcoming features why I have a bit of an issue with soliciting definitions from the English dictionary. Anyway, the dictionary definition is that GBV refers to any act of violence that is directed at an individual based on their gender or perceived gender.
This can include physical, sexual, emotional, and economic abuse. It can take place in a variety of settings, including the home, the workplace, and public spaces. Now, in the context of the said video, there is physical abuse from the male to the female, and emotional (specifically verbal abuse) towards the male.
Both are forms of abuse and should be cautioned against. I often hear this in my line of work,“Ke mo roakile hore ke mo siee moo ke mo lebetseng eaba ena osa mphahamisetsa letsoho.” It would seem that when threatened, a woman's survival instinct lies in their words, whereas for the men it lies in their masculine strength to overpower and attack.
Gender-based violence is not black and white. It requires us to approach it carefully. There is no denying the data and research that exists, that GBV is more prevalent in women than in men. Some of the most heinous crimes against humanity are those perpetuated by males against females.
My perspective maybe somewhat biased because I get to work with women faced with GBV and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).
In like manner, I work with men faced with GBV and IPV. Both are wrong, period! Which brings us to IPV and its dictionary definition. Intimate Partner Violence refers to any behaviour within an intimate relationship that causes physical, psychological, or sexual harm to one or both partners. IPV can take various forms, including physical violence, sexual violence, emotional abuse, and control over financial resources.
A clear understanding of GBV and IPV can inform preventative measures.
To mitigate GBV in settings where it manifests, it is important to take a comprehensive approach that addresses the underlying causes of violence. These include social and cultural norms that perpetuate gender inequality and support violence against women and other marginalised groups.
That is to say, to mitigate why girls and women are being taken out of school in Afghanistan, let us factor in the cultural norms. To stand against senseless killings of women in Iran, what is it that we need to understand about Iranian culture as this might be where solutions lie?
If we want to combat killings of women that identify as gay in South Africa, what is important for us to know about gender identity in this specific context?
Some ways to combat GBV include education and awareness-raising, legal and policy interventions, support services for survivors as well as working with perpetrators.
The same goes for IPV; prevention efforts, screening and assessment to provide appropriate interventions and referrals as needed, support services like emergency shelter, counselling, and legal assistance. If in contexts like Lesotho we continue to equate gender-based violence with women-based violence, we exclude men,“re hamela letanteng.”
During my studies abroad, I learned of the Duluth model. The developers found that when different members of the community coordinated their efforts to protect survivors and hold perpetrators accountable, these efforts were more successful.
I have found it helpful to adopt a working mindset that in empowering women against GBV and IPV, it is equally beneficial to teach men the part that they play in it. Therefore, they can be part of the solution.
This is a comprehensive and coordinated approach that is needed to combat GBV and IPV in Lesotho. I saw this on LinkedIn the other day,“Focus on women is essential, primary, mandatory even.
But these young women and girls live in societies that they share with men and young boys. An inclusive model can be helpful. Sidelining the boy child [and men] is perpetuating the very problems we want to ameliorate.”
My takeaway from the video in question is that it displayed how gender-based violence is experienced by men and women alike.
Until next time!
The author works as a Psychotherapist. She holds a Master's in Counseling Psychology. She has certifications in Global Health Delivery, Policy Development & Advocacy in Global Health, Leadership & Management in Health, as well as Fundamentals in Implementation Science. Her views are independent and not representative of her professional roles. She is ambitious about equitable health delivery, health policy and decolonised mental health approaches.