“A man can cheat, it is part of how was created,” asserts a young man in Lusaka. In his view, it is not a big deal for a husband to cheat on the wife and the wife should not take it in bad taste, because hardly any man doesn’t cheat.
“The tragedy comes in when the wife asks him about it and she gets beaten up. When she goes back to her parents or guardians, hardly will anything be done about it,” sadly adds Sophia (not her real name), as she contributes to the debate.
It is in a youth forum organized by Young Men Christian Associations (YMCA) Zambia at Nyumba Yanga Primary School in the outskirts of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital where young people have assembled to discuss among other things, gender based violence. The forum is part of A Real Man Is project funded by Africa Alliance of YMCAs (AAYMCA) where partners include YMCA Zambia, Coexist Kenya and PAWA 254.
A Real Man Is, is a three year programme based on the Transformative Masculinity component of the subject to citizen (S2C) Philosophy. The main tenet of S2C is to empower young people with voice, space and ability to influence those in authority. The programme is aimed at empowering young people to be active in the campaign against Violence Against Women (VAW).
Through dialogue, role modeling and campaigns targeting young men, this project seeks to transform the hegemonic conception of manliness that is manifested in domestic violence, cyber-violence and violence in the community. A transformed masculinity will enable men to better handle the social and economic challenges they face. It will also make them better partners, friends and community members, who take responsibility to stop violence against women.
Participants agree that families hold the keys to success in ending violence against women in marriages. They say that when these incidences happen, families, including that of the wife are always at the forefront of calling for forgiveness, moving ahead and not bothering about justice. These families further urge the lady not to bring out such issues in public because they paint the marriage in bad light in the eyes of the public and can easily break the marriage.
The burden of weight shifts to the women, who will be blamed for a potential end to the marriage not the man who actually caused. Fixed between a corner and a rock, and a general practice across the community, women decide to suffer in silence, creating monsters in men that they can be lords of impunity. It also gives fodder to other men to beat up their wives, disrespecting and abusing them in the process for they know nothing will happen to them.