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Reassessing Masculinities-Focused Interventions: Room and Reasons for Improvement

Karen Graaff


Gender-based violence (GBV) remains a serious issue in many countries around the world, and this is particularly true for South Africa. Many current interventions to address this phenomenon have, however, had little success in reducing the rates of such violence. This study looked at masculinities-focused interventions as a method for addressing GBV, through a qualitative investigation of the One Man Can (OMC) programme in the Western Cape province of South Africa, based on the observation of workshops, and interviews and focus groups with workshop participants and facilitators. A number of concerns related to the implementation of the intervention are detailed. The first is a lack of awareness of the intersectional nature of masculinities, which risks implying that it is only individual men who need to change, rather than systemic patriarchy and gender inequality. Second, the workshops focus almost exclusively on poor men of colour, which can reinforce the existing stigma these men face in racist societies, such as South Africa. Finally, the workshops use a narrow definition of GBV, focusing almost entirely on violence against women, which excludes violence against other marginalised groups, such as the LGBTQI+ community, boys and men. Thus, the workshops require a rethink of their content and implementation, in order to better contribute to efforts aimed at reducing GBV within larger gender and sexual justice goals.

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eISSN: 1728-774X