Men have an essential part to play in bringing a stop to violence against women. By taking decisive action, men can set an example and inspire other males around them to join the cause – paving the way for more peaceful lives.
Violence against women is often seen as a woman’s issue. In our society where men have more power than women, it may seem that this problem belongs solely on females’ shoulders. But male support is crucial in making sure every community member enjoys safety from abuse or harassment.
Men should be aware of the power imbalance they have over women and work to end abuse in order to protect their mothers, sisters, daughters…etc.
It is time men take responsibility for respecting the rights of those around them- regardless if it is a man or woman being abused.
There are many ways that men and boys can get involved in the fight to end violence against women. It is important for males of all ages, from students to businessmen, teachers to law enforcement officers to stand up and speak out about the injustice faced by those who live with gender inequality around them.
Engaging men in conversations about violence against women is key. Here are some ways that we can both support survivors and engage those who subjugate them:
- Encourage our fathers, uncles, brothers, and sons (men) to be active bystanders by intervening when someone does something disrespectful towards their mothers/sisters/wives, etc. ;
- Educate boys at an early age on how consent works so there isn’t confusion later in life over what constitutes rape;
- Make sure schools have policies set up that protect victims from retaliation should they report sexual assault.
Below, I share a list from Voices of Men of 10 things men can do to actively take a stand against violence against women.
1. Break out of the Man Box by challenging traditional images of manhood that keep you from taking a stand.
2. Ask how you can help if you suspect abuse or an assault. And if you are abusing others in any way, stop and seek professional help immediately.
3. No means No.
Teach your children that “NO” means “NO” and that “STOP” means “STOP.”
4. Don’t buy the argument that sexual and domestic violence are due to mental illness, lack of anger management skills, chemical dependency, stress or other excuses.
5. Stand UP & Speak OUT.
Silence affirms and supports sexual and domestic violence.
6. LOOK in the mirror.
Do your own attitudes and actions help support the objectification and devaluing of women and girls?
7. Be a MODEL for youth.
Mentor a boy. Teach boys with your words and actions that being a man means respecting women.
8. Educate yourself.
Listen to and learn from women. Attend programs and events and learn how to end domestic violence and sexual assault.
9. Step to create a culture shift that doesn’t tolerate disrespecting or degradation of women. Make this a MEN’S ISSUE.
10. Host a video discussion or presenter through work, school, church, service club or sports team.
Violence against women is an issue that transcends numerous borders, ethnicities, and cultures. It is a problem that we all need to stand up to and take action in order for it to stop. Violence manifests itself in various forms from domestic violence to sexual assault. If we want a safe and healthy community for all people then it’s time we commit ourselves to building relationships where everyone feels safe and respected.
If you or someone you know needs immediate assistance, please call these helplines.
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Edith is a creative writer, social science researcher, speaker and a civic change advocate.