There are 4 key ways in which you can help prevent, stop and end violence against women:
Prevention Through Example and Education
Educate yourself and others about how larger social forces affect the conflicts between individual men and women.
It is also possible to attend programmes, take courses, watch films, and read articles and books about multicultural masculinities, gender inequality, and the root causes of gender violence.
Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don’t involve degrading or abusing girls and women. Volunteer to work with gender violence prevention programmes, including anti-sexist men’s programmes. Lead by example.
Here are some of the ways in which you can step up and step in as a man:
- If your father, uncle, brother, cousin, friend, male classmate, male co-worker or male teammate is abusing his female partner – or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general – never look the other way. If you can, call him out on it and talk to him about it immediately. Tell him to STOP IT NOW. Urge him to seek help.
- If you see a woman or girl being physically assaulted or about to be raped in front of you – DO SOMETHING. If there are other bystanders (men or women), ask them for help and set an example by stepping in and urging them to step in with you to stop the incident from happening or continuing by pulling him off her and sending someone to get help from the authorities.
- Report the incident and stand your ground as a witness. Do not “let it go” or pretend it never happened afterwards or rationalise it as “he was having a bad day”. When a man hits or rapes a woman once, he WILL do it again – maybe not to her but to another woman or girl. There is no excuse for abuse.
- If you don’t know what to do or if your efforts at immediate intervention does not work, take further action – consult a friend, a parent, a professor, a counselor or even the authorities to get help for both the perpetrator and victim. NEVER REMAIN SILENT.
- If a woman you know comes to you for help to escape the abuse, help her leave her abuser. This could mean everything from helping her plan her escape to providing transport for when she packs up to leave for the women’s shelter, helping her make arrangements with the women’s shelter and accompanying her to report the abuse or rape.
See yourself as a responsible and empowered man who can take steps to do what is right to stop violence against women, be it confronting your abusive male peers or helping a woman escape.
The simplest and most effective form of activism that you as an individual man can undertake in your daily life is to pro-actively raise awareness about the issue of violence against women.
Speaking out against violence against women is absolutely crucial in helping to stop and end it. Understand and believe that you’re not speaking out on behalf of women, but because it affects and offends you as a man.
Here are some of the ways you can get started:
- Talk to your male peers about it.
- Discuss it with your family and circle of friends.
- If you are a teacher or community leader working with young boys and men – talk to them about it.
- Talk about how it makes you feel and how big the problem is globally, anything to get people talking about the problem.
Other ways in which you can participate in preventing, stopping and ending violence against women:
- Actively help women and organisations such as The Pixel Project who are working to end all forms of gender-based violence – be a participant.
- Don’t fund sexism in the media – boycott any magazine, video, website or music that portrays girls and women in a sexually abusive or degrading manner.
- Don’t remain silent about sexism in the media:
- Protest and write letters to the editor.
- Urge your friends, family and community (including the local library) to join you in boycotting any media that degrades women.
- Teach your sons, nephews and male students that sexism in the media is wrong and damaging.
- Have the courage to look inward and to question your own attitudes towards girls and women.
- Don’t be defensive when something you do or say ends up hurting someone else. Take responsibility for your actions.
- Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.
- Be conscious of your day-to-day treatment of the girls and woman in your life – make the effort to stop yourself when you realise that you are treating them with disrespect.
If you are emotionally, psychologically, physically, financially/economically, or sexually abusive or violent towards women, or have been in the past, be responsible – seek professional help NOW.
The important thing to remember is that men can help stop violence against women by educating and raising awareness in other men.
In short: Speaking out against gender-based violence in the company of your male peers.
Men’s lives are highly structured by relationships with other men – always keep in mind that men’s attitudes and behaviours are shaped in powerful ways by their male peers. Men have to change the traditional acceptance of social norms and become allies to Women.
Therefore, men like you have to become great examples in implementing non-violent masculinity by practising and teaching qualities and behaviours such as listening, empathy, and respect for women along with other men and boys.
Here are some ways for spreading the message amongst your peers:
- Vocalise your stand against violence against women.
- Emphasise that women are your equal and should be respected.
- Emphasise that both men and women must work together to end gender-based violence.
- Teach young boys and young men that women should be treated by love, civility and respect.
- Hold other men accountable for their actions.
- Speak out every chance you get.
- Lead by example – step up to stop violence against women in your life every chance you get.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of how you can spread the message but it is that all important starting point that will help to bring an end to violence against women and spread humane values and beliefs at the same time.
Respecting the women in your life
Men should treat women in the same way they should treat any other member of society – with courtesy and as human beings and individuals with the right to live life free of violence.