From November 10-15, 2006 Sonke Gender Justice conducted a survey of 945 men in the greater Johannesburg area. Men were selected from diverse racial and ethnic groups in the same general proportion as these groups are represented in South Africa.
Men were asked two initial questions about how they viewed responses to violence against women. These were:
- Is the Government doing too much, not enough or the right amount to address the problem of violence against women in South Africa?
- Are men in general doing too much, not enough or the right amount to address the problem of violence against women?
Men were then asked to rank according to priority six potential strategies for dealing with violence against women. The options offered were in two broad areas:
- what government could do and
- what men could do themselves.
The survey results indicate that men in the greater Johannesburg area hold a range of quite different perceptions about gender equality and about violence against women.
Men’s perceptions of what they and other men are doing to respond to violence against women: In response to the question “are men doing enough to end violence against women”, only a small proportion of men (15.3%) felt that they were doing too much to end violence against women while a majority of men (50.1%) felt men should be doing more.
Men’s perceptions of the government’s response to violence against women: In response to the question “is the government doing enough to end violence against women, 41.4% of men surveyed said that the government is doing too much to end violence against women. At the same time, 38.4% of men surveyed said that government is not doing enough to end violence against women. In other words, very similar numbers of men within all population groups seem to support and oppose government efforts to promote gender transformation.
Recommendations: Extremely high rates of gender based violence and the HIV/AIDS crisis demand that Government and civil society organisations take action to increase men’s commitment to ending violence against women. These survey results indicate that some men appear eager to play a more involved role in ending violence against women while other men appear threatened by gender transformation. Violence prevention interventions need to be tailored to respond to the perceptions of these different groups of men.
Government and civil society organisations should encourage more gender equitable men to play a more active role in ending violence against women and should provide these men with the necessary support, skills and resources. At the same time, government and civil society should challenge the myths and misconceptions held by those men who resist change and inform them about the reality of endemic levels of violence against women and a still inadequate criminal justice system response that fails to protect victims or deter perpetrators in any meaningful way.