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‘Speak out and break chain of abuse’

Mamohlakola Letuka

A NON-GOVERNMENTAL Organisation, Movers for Social Change recently held an anti-gender based violence campaign that encouraged men to work with women to build peace in all spheres of life.

The continued killings, harm and abuses of both men and women by their spouses, partners, family members or any other person, continue to haunt communities in Lesotho.

This emerged during a Gender Based Violence campaign held in Maseru, which brought together various stakeholders, who marched and held a discussion on how to turn the tide.

The campaign aimed at encouraging a collective activism by women and men following a realisation that there was not enough collaborative advocacy to ensure peaceful coexistence between women and men, especially within the home environment.

Movers for Social Change is an organisation that seeks to promote and foster social justice in Lesotho through initiatives that impact positively on the communities.

Its mission is to stand for social justice and equal appreciation of human beings, regardless of race, gender and religion

Co-Founder for Movers for Social Change, Moretlo ‘Moleli said the campaign was targeting men who usually shy away from speaking-out about their experiences as survivors of gender based violence.

As a result, he said, the silence caused some men pain, hate and anger; and increased chances of them becoming perpetrators of violence.

“For example, some studies have shown that in the absence of interventions, some abused children grow up to become abusers, especially among boys. The studies also showed that in most patriarchal societies, including Lesotho, some boys do not speak-out when abused because speaking-out is sometimes interpreted as a sign of weakness,” Ms ‘Moleli said.

She said her organization considered silence by most men and non-participation in activities aiming to end violence, as the biggest challenge in the fight to end gender-based violence.

Ms ‘Moleli said while it was important to observe the Global 16 Days of Activism as a powerful tool against gender-based violence, he organization was working to continuously remind people of the importance to live peacefully.

Following the march, the participants exchanged ideas and lessons learnt on how to tackle gender-based violence in their communities.

Among other areas of discussion, participants agreed on the need for knowledge and self-awareness to enable both women and men to take charge of their lives.

Gender, Entrepreneurship Empowerment and Media (GEM) Institute Representative, Sechaba Makoae, said it was important for individuals to know themselves and make decisions that would shape happy lives.

“Take charge of your life, forgive if you must! But always remember that you are responsible for your life,” Mr Makoae said.

Mr Makoae further explained that parents and families should not expose children to domestic violence as this may negatively influence their behavior when they grow up.

He said the idea behind encouraging men to break the silence was to reflect on life experiences within communities and identify underlying causes of gender-based violence to contribute towards development of strategies that can help to create harmonious environments.

“We have noticed the difficulties associated with reporting incidents of domestic or gender-based violence to the police. Some families tend to protect the perpetrators unaware that they need some help. The notion that families cannot wash their dirty linen in public because ‘domestic is private’ is also perpetuating the gender-based violence challenge,” Mr Makoae said.

He encouraged all stakeholders to regard gender-based violence as a weapon against sustainable development and work together to influence development of policies and laws that would strengthen respect for human rights and protection of all people.

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