By: SACBC Justice and Peace Commission
The UN and SACBC nation-wide survey with men in taverns highlight the importance of family in ending violence against women. In the previous years, SACBC Justice and Peace has been working with United Nations in implementing a nation-wide program on conversation with men in taverns.
“Instead of waiting for men to come to us, we go to meet them in taverns. In the taverns, we have conversation with them challenging them to take action on the following issues: men not attending churches, children abandoned by fathers, the role of men in parenting, men as positive role models for boy-children, the problem of blessers and teen pregnancy, alcohol abuse and drug abuse, crime and safety in the murder and respect for human life, health issues for men (cancer for men), abortion, violence against women and children, the importance of strengthening family in ending violence.” The conversations challenge men to stop being by standers and to take action in their families and in their communities to address these societal challenges.
The work with men in the tavern also feeds into the engagement that we are doing with the government particularly in relation to its strategic plan on gender-based violence and femicide. There is a need to have a deeper insight into the social context and social dynamics (the social norms) within families that are behind the epidemic of violence against women.
The government has identified six pillars for ending violence against women. The strengthening of families is not included in this list of pillars. When we challenge the government to include family and family values as an additional pillar, we have often been told by the government that we need to provide scientific evidence to support our argument. In 2021, we therefore started working with the men in taverns and the university of Johannesburg to conduct various surveys into the social norms, the social context and social dynamics within families that are behind the epidemic of violence against women. The survey will continue in 2023. One of the surveys is the social norm barometer which has been completed in February 2023. Last week, we helped them to submit the survey report to the department of social development. The report shall be used in the process we started in 2021 in engaging the government to review its list of pillars for ending violence against women.
Among its recommendations, the survey has highlighted the need to focus on the collapse of family and family values when addressing violence against women. It has also emphasized the link between violence against women and “the culture of violence where violence is embraced as an acceptable way of resolving conflicts in a relationship.” There is also a big role that alcohol abuse plays in family violence.
The project on conversation with men in the taverns is dedicated to the intercession of Saint Dominic. His pastoral approach has been an inspiration behind the project. In his pastoral approach, instead of waiting for heretics to come to church, Saint Dominic decided to go out into the pubs and universities to have conversation with the heretics. According to Timothy Radcliffe, Saint Dominic was inspired to establish the Dominican Order after having had a night long conversation with a heretic in a pub. In some provinces in Europe, the Dominicans have opened pub -restaurants and are using such facilities to evangelize and talk to people about the Gospel and the need for conversion.
As a Church, instead of complaining that men are not attending Mass on Sunday and that men are primary perpetrators of family violence, we should sometimes go out to meet them in the taverns and challenge them to return to God’s mercy and attend Church on Sundays. We should sometimes go out to the taverns and challenge their clients to receive God’s mercy and repent from family violence.
In partnership with DGMT, SACBC Justice and Peace is also tackling the high levels of alcohol abuse in the country, the increasing trend of violence and shootings in taverns, the limitations of the government policy on alcohol and the contribution of the alcohol industry to these developments through its emphasis of profit over human dignity.