UP Student Affairs Department gives male victims a voice at panel discussion on male-on-male violence

Posted on June 10, 2019

The Department of Student Affairs at the University of Pretoria (UP), in conjunction with student initiative Mandown, recently held a panel discussion entitled MaleVictim MalePerpetrator. The aim of the event, which was held at Hillcrest Campus, was to have a candid conversation about gender-based violence and sexual harassment as experienced, and perpetrated, by men.

“These discussions have brought to the surface some of the fundamental challenges we need to tackle if we are to deal with the scourge of sexual abuse,” Director of Student Affairs Dr Matete Madiba said during the discussion. “This includes the fact that we should intentionally tackle the issue of silence around male victims. We have to work harder to understand whether there is a direct relationship between the level of victimisation on boys and young men and the abuse of women and children. We need to pay more attention in order to see some level of impact in terms of the anti-sexual abuse work we are trying to focus on.”  

Olefile Masangane of Heartlines, an organisation that encourages people to live out positive values, shared his story at the gathering, and demonstrated how this can become part of the healing process.

These sorts of conversations will help to bring about change, especially in men, said UP Political Science graduate Vuyani Mrali. “Educating young boys about violence is important: for us to be able to build a society that will get rid of toxic masculinity – which is masculinity that is abusive and that subjugates women – we need to have these conversations.”

TV and radio presenter Kwena Moabelo argued that men seem to protect male perpetrators through silence, adding that many admit to knowing (female) victims but would not own up to knowing the perpetrators. 

Studies have shown that many male victims often do not relate their experiences. Platforms such as these could encourage men to speak out without the fear of being judged. “Men also need support, especially those who have been violated,” said Karabo Nonyane, project manager at Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute. “There are plenty of men out there who are victims.”

- Author Xolani Mathibela

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