The recently launched Men As Role Models programme that encourages men to be responsible and shun child abuse has been received with overwhelming response. It was launched by Shamwari yeMwanasikana at Alliance Francaise last Tuesday in partnership with Higherlife Foundation.
Nyasha Mhonda, an Upper Six student at Speciss College, who is also the current president Jury of Zimbabwe welcomed the Men as Role Models programme saying it was a positive development. “I think engaging men in all our activities is going to be a positive step towards a successful Zimbabwe. As girls we cannot do anything on our own without the help of men so they should come on board. This programme seeks to engage men into the activities we do. We realised that we could not go further addressing these problems faced by a girl-child without involving men who are perpetrators of abuse. As an organisation, at Shamwari YeMwanasikana we stand for the rights of a girl-child and try by all means to eliminate the problems they faced in the past and today that continue to hinder our development as girls”, she said.
Mhonda said they engaged men in the programme for them to know what girls want. “It came at an opportune time when we wanted to have a one-on-one with men telling them what we want and we were surprised that they were actually cooperating. Tafadzwa Maponga, a student at Young Africa College doing cutting and designing, said they were relieved to have such a programme. “I am a Child Rights Ambassador and stand for the rights of girls. It is a great advantage to us because we used to get insults from rank marshal each time we passed through their territories”, she said. “This programme is there to protect us from such intolerable behaviour as men have come on board. Men tend to humiliate us girls especially when we are in company of our mothers than our fathers”, She said cultural beliefs were still a thorn in the flesh when it comes to the girls’ emancipation.
“Harmful cultural practices that affect a girl child have been ongoing, but this time I think we will succeed in addressing such issues since men are now actively involved in protecting us. We have leant that through this programme, men realised their mistakes and from what was being said during the discussions it became clear that they will correct their misconceptions about us.”
Junior Councillor Advocate Adrian Munyoro who is living with disability took the opportunity to voice his concern over the abuse towards disabled girls. “As a man living with disability, I am lobbying for the protection of girls with challenges since they are the most vulnerable when it comes to issues of abuse” he said. “They should be treated equally with those without disabilities and they must know that they not inferior. As men we need to unite and stand with girls and be able to reduce chances of sexual abuse towards them.”