AS the world observes 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, some men in the country have identified various causes behind the increasing cases of violence including desire by the group to show their masculinity.
According to them, most of the plans, policies and interventions being undertaken to fight gender based violence are focused on protecting and empowering women, thus leaving men behind.
They said that traditionally men are considered as powerful and controllers in the family and society in general, thus the efforts being undertaken to improve the status of women and girls is regarded as a threat to their superiority.
A group of men gathered in Dar es Salaam recently under the coordination of Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) to discuss the causes of increasing cases of gender violence and the way forward as part of the commemoration of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence.
Severine Allute, WASH Advisor from Tonehai said that the Beijing Conference held in 1995 came up with strategies of empowering women in all fields and forgot about men.
“Most of the plans, policies and strategies undertaken focused on uplifting women and as a result men feel that they are no longer recognised and respected in the family, especially when a woman is financially stable in comparison to a man, thus perpetuating violence,” he said.
He added: “Economic power is a big problem for majority of men, most women have been economically empowered thus some men feel uncomfortable with them and feel that they are losing their superiority.”
Mr Allute said that in order to fight gender based violence, there should be equal empowerment between men and women.
Another participant, Idd Rajabu Mziray, Deputy Coordinator from Men Engage Tanzania said that traditionally a man has been considered as the financial provider in the family, but women empowerment has removed this male dominance and as a result they have to find ways of overcoming such situation, which in most cases results into gender violence.
“When men feel that they are no longer powerful, they find ways of protecting themselves (egoism) such as restricting a woman from engaging in income generating activities, beating, or forcing her to quit her job,” he said.
“Gender based violence cases are on the rise because we have a society where women have been empowered forcing some men not to be ready to live with such women,” he said.
Dr Katanta Simwanza from Engender Health said the main cause of gender violence is how a man has been raised in the society that surrounds him.
“In our society, a man is considered as a leader, decision maker, owner of resources and property and a person who is courageous, thus a man who assists his wife in doing domestic chores is seen as weird… but a woman is supposed to be respectful, clean and honest,” he said.
“These kinds of perceptions causes a man to continue being more powerful while a woman continues to be undermined… this is wrong because the society has denied men the opportunity to express their emotions, causing more problem to them including death,” he said.
A Dar es Salaam resident, Joseph Msendo said that policies and various laws have paid more attention on protecting women than men.
For instance, he said when parents decide to divorce, a man is not allowed to live with the children until they reach a certain age, yet he is required to provide for all their essential needs regardless of his economic situation.
An independent Advocate, Mlowe Pasience said that economic situation is one of the causes of gender violence, where rich people cause emotional violence while those who are poor use physical violence as a defense mechanism.
He also said that most of the youth are not prepared enough to get married, they only decide to marry because of age, pressure from the family or because they get jobs to earn income, and as a result they fail to change their behavior and live the kind of life which cause misunderstanding in the family.
16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is a global campaign dedicated to raising awareness about the impact of violence, particularly on women. The campaign starts 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and concludes 10 December, Human Rights Day.