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Men suffer in silence: Letima

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Limpho Sello

 

MASERU — Sesotho Media Development Manager, Mpho Letima, says men are left aside on sexual and gender violence issues though these affect them as much as women and children. Letima said every time people raise the issue of gender violence they leave men out. She said her organisation would rather to talk about abuse of women, children and men because the issue affects everyone.

“It came to our attention as Sesotho Media that men are not given an ear and when they try to speak out about their abuse they are laughed at,” Letima said. “This is serious because they end up bottling things inside for the fear of being laughed at.” She after Sesotho Media visited five districts in Lesotho, they found that

Basotho from rural areas are being left out in sexual and gender based violence programmes. Letima added: “We first asked for people’s opinion on how they view the issue and they admitted that men are abused and harassed.”

“We again held several workshops where we included councillors and church representatives. We made a priority that male councillors should be present because we realised that men feel comfortable to share their worries with other men.”

“But women were also invited to our meetings and workshops since they are also affected”, she said. She said in July they toured Thaba Tseka with the same objective. At a meeting with all-male community members the question was raised and it was agreed that men are abused. Many said in their villages there are a number of men who are abused though they are silent about it.

Asked what the percentage of men abused in the villages was like Letima said though they do not have statistics, in all their workshops all the participants agreed that men also suffer abuse. “The number of participants in our various meetings and workshops varied from eighteen in the first workshop, twenty two from the second workshop while we had fifteen on the third one. All of the participants agreed about men being abused.”

Letima said they know for a fact that indeed men are abused so the next step is to try to help these men to speak out and maybe find themselves as a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) to have the legal capacity to enhance or adjust their policies.

Letima further said that men are considered heads of villages and of their respective families and in Sesotho Culture a man is not supposed to cry, something which stops them from growing emotionally.

“We need to have a Basotho community with true men and women in it so we need to help all the people without scaling them with power and gender.”

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