We, the men and women of Swaziland, are not only shocked but saddened by the recent alarming increase in cases of violence against women and children. We stand together with our sisters and mothers, with our wives and partners, with our daughters and granddaughters to condemn the recent barbaric acts of Gender Based Violence in the country. This violence affects EVERYONE, men and women, and stifles the growth of our nation towards His Majesty’s Vision 2022.
To achieve this noble goal and foster the development of our beautiful country, we must speak out in one collective voice to condemn such violence against our women and children. We must protect them from abuse with clearly defined laws protecting the rights of survivors and the victims of abuse. We must develop strategies that reduce the vulnerabilities of women and children to abuse in the domestic environment, a health sector and criminal justice system that priorities the rights and welfare of the abused as well as laws and penalties that deter would-be offenders and keep perpetrators off the street with victim offender mediation and effective offender rehabilitation programmes. We need legislation on such sexual offences and domestic violence to address these atrocities that are fast becoming a norm in our society.
We support and celebrate men, women, boys, girls and any citizen of the country who denounces the oppression of one gender by another, who takes responsibility for their health and that of their siblings, relatives and community members, who demands an end to all forms of violence across the country.
Men are often the perpetrators of violence and abuse, but it is not all men who chose such a life. Men are also the solution to these social challenges. Men are our proud fathers and faithful husbands. They are our sons and brothers, our leaders, and our allies. To all Swazi men, let us stand up and be counted as men who respect women, children and each other and lead lives free from violence of all kinds. We can work together towards an alternative image of masculinity, a new man and a new national story, one that is both proud of its past and pursuant of a bright, peaceful future.
Swaziland can become a leading light in gender equality throughout the region. Our men, who currently occupy a majority of the decision-making seats of legal, economic, political, traditional and entrepreneurial power, also hold the power to become agents of change for a new Swaziland. We can become the living examples of a new positive definition of masculinity – men who protect the vulnerable, love their families and each other and respect their roles in creating a happier, healthier future.
As we commemorate June as the month of the African Child and Men’s Health Month, let us take stock of what the country has achieved from independence and call for the enactment of the Sexual Offences & Domestic Violence Bill of 2015 which will be recorded in history as another milestone that the country achieved in its attempt to find solutions to inequality in our society and put in place structures and mechanisms that would end Gender Based Violence forever.
Some additional points are as follows:
- MenEngage Swaziland and CANGO strongly condemn Gender based violence in whatever form.
- Sexual violence and weak family structures are one of the major drivers of HIV, especially among adolescent girls and young women.
- The King has challenged us to be HIV-free in 2022. The picture of an HIV-free Swaziland in 2022 includes a society that is free from gender based violence, where everyone knows their HIV status, where there are no new HIV infections.
- We want to encourage that families must always take allegations and reports of abuse seriously and further investigate any claims of sexual abuse, especially by young girls. Look out for the children, especially adolescent girls. Keeping open communication as it is a key factor in early detect of abuse.