Fathers to set example for their sons

MEC Mamiki Qabathe (in the purple dress) with some of the participants at the launch of the MenCare 50:50 parenting programme. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

One of the issues the country has been battling with is gender-based violence as well as femicide.

In response to the call to act on this profound problem and increased incidents in the Free State Province during the past two years, especially with the added pressure Covid-19 and the Lockdown restrictions placed on families, the MEC for Social Development, Mamiki Qabathe, called upon parents to set an example for their children.

The department has partnered with Sonke Gender Justice, a non-profit organisation that develops and provides training supported by funding from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) to implement the MenCare 50:50 parenting programme.

The programme focuses on engaging men and women as equal caring and respectful partners. “It also focuses on the prevention of gender-based violence and changing men’s attitude towards the economic empowerment of women, while underlying the fact that partners have a 50:50 responsibility to support each other,” said Louis Mostert, Deputy Director: Care & Support Services to Families from the Department of Social Development.

Mostert explained what inspired the idea behind the programme was SA’s stats reports of 2018, which showed only 34.4% of children were staying with both their parents and most of the single-parent households were headed by a mother only, even where fathers were present as they were often not emotionally present or equally invested in their families. “The aim of the programme is to get fathers involved and dually responsible for their households and the raising of their children. Studies show that when children have both parents involved in their nurturing they have better chances of socio, emotional and economic success.”

MEC Qabathe expressed her gratitude by saying, “A programme such as this one is very important because the focus has been on women for a long time. Though we have been talking to the victims, we have not been addressing the perpetrators, who are the men in our communities. We need to ask our men what has gone wrong, when and how have they changed from being protectors to being such monsters. We need to engage these men and find out how they can be helped so that this vicious cycle is halted.”

Patrick Godana from Sonke Gender Justice said it is very important to educate boy children from a very young age. “If you miss the opportunity to mentor them while they are still young, there is very little you can do to correct their behaviour when they are older. We talk about teenage pregnancy as if it’s a ‘girls problem’, but who are impregnating these girls, who are infecting them with HIV? They are the same boys, those we are overlooking when we have these serious conversations.”

Corn Koteli