Violence against women and girls is a grave violation of human rights and is a global pandemic that affects women all over the world. South Africa has one of the highest rates of violence against women and Bloemfontein has been highly affected by the crisis the country is currently facing.
37-year-old Bloemfontein resident, Frederick Mudavanhu, has taken the initiative to help women around the city by starting the #MenWhoCare campaign. Mudavanhu, who is Head of Distance Learning Formal Programmes at the University of the Free State, started this project after realising that for the most part he was participating in hashtags that involved no action.
The #MenWhoCare is a campaign aimed at getting men to contribute to the fight against gender-based violence by taking specific action. The project calls upon each man to buy at least one pepper spray for any woman/women of their choice. “When the men do the handover of the pepper spray, the campaign requested them to tell the woman that, “I am aware that there are men out there hunting women. These men do not represent me. However, I have made it my personal responsibility to be part of the solution and I know that this is not a solution to our main problem but it’s a first step towards exploring the long-term solutions. Men who answer the call are also requested to share their experiences under the hashtag #MenWhoCare and #SheMustNotBeNext. The idea behind sharing is to encourage,” Mudavanhu said.
The motto of the campaign is “Action for the Women” and Mudavanhu has since been taking action since the launch on 12 September 2019. He has since been giving random women he meets a bottle of pepper spray, which has amounted to more than 26 bottles so far.
According to Mudavanhu, shortly after Women’s Month a series of unfortunate events involving violence against females, including the attack on a female students’ commune in Brandwag, Bloemfontein in September, made him deeply introspect his contribution to alleviating gender-based violence.
Mudavanhu’s goal is to reach 365 women, which equates to a year of activism against gender-based violence. Men can join the campaign by either purchasing the pepper spray which Mudavanhu will distribute or they can distribute and then share that gesture on FaceBook under the hashtag #MenWhoCare. For more information, visit the Facebook page @menwhocareSA or contact Mudavanhy on cellphone 073-002-4533
PIERCE VAN HEERDEN