The only people who can put a stop to gender-based violence are men – the same people who are mostly the perpetrators.

So says Farouk Hansen, a member of the Heideveld Neighbourhood Watch who attended a three-day work on gender-based violence (GBV).

Mr Hansen was part of a group of 24 men who completed the course, presented by Rape Crisis and the Callas Foundation, in partnership with the Manenberg SAPS gender-based violence desk. This is the third workshop hosted by this partnership, but for the first time all the participants were men.

Mr Hansen said he now had even more respect for women.

“This was really a good learning experience for me,” he said. “I will share what I have learnt with my colleagues, family, and community. As men, we are the only people who can stop GBV because it is mostly men who are the problem. We need to get more men to do this course. Our parents did not prepare us on how you should treat your wife, or how to raise your daughters, for example. Things have changed over the years, and we cannot continue living in the patriarchal past.”

Bernard Johnson, also from the Heideveld Neighbourhood Watch, said he, too, had learnt a lot.

“I am now aware of things I didn’t really give a second thought to. Some men must still learn that it’s not okay to touch a woman (sexually) without her permission,” Mr Johnson said.

Jerome Henry, who is a volunteer at the victim support room at Manenberg SAPS, said they not only gained new information but also bonded through this process.

“We now have a different perspective towards rape survivors. With our knowledge now, we can empower our community by sharing what we have learnt. We are not always able to assist our community when it involves a financial need, but this is now freely available. We are so grateful to the organisations that came out to teach us,” he said.

Rape Crisis facilitator Bajija Jacobs said the three-day workshop covered the myths around rape, the trauma it caused as well as the criminal justice system.

“This is the first group of men we trained, and most of the issues revolved around how they were raised. They need to adapt to how things are now, and change their mindset. Another thing we discussed was how to be present for your children. To show interest, and explain what the meaning of virgin is, for example, and not to shoo the child away or laugh about it,” Ms Jacobs said.

Nosipho Fuzile, also a facilitator, said the men were “very receptive”.

“Most of the things they were surprised to learn. However, they were very interactive and had many questions, and that is always good,” she said.

Manenberg SAPS spokesman Captain Ian Bennett, said: “Gender-based violence is a national priority. Manenberg SAPS management spearheaded this initiative to empower members of our community. Empowering strategically placed members of our community is one of our front-line combating priorities.”

The men all received certificates and enjoyed a special lunch to celebrate the completion of the workshop.