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Male ambassadors take up the cudgels for fight against gender-based violence

Activist Kevin Alexander launched his gender-based violence workshop on Saturday in Kensington, Cape Town. (Photo: Bryan Philander)

Despite gender-based violence being described by President Cyril Ramaphosa as a pandemic, the relentless attack on women continues unabated. But an activist has started an initiative he hopes will nip it in the bud.

On Saturday, 20 March, Kevin Alexander hosted a gender-based violence (GBV) and domestic violence workshop under the banner of the Alexander Institute for Self Development Guardian Angel Wings at the Shawco centre in Kensington, Cape Town.

Attending were social workers, a senior magistrate and victims of GBV and domestic violence. The idea, Alexander said, is to have such a workshop at least once a month to teach especially men about the adverse effect GBV has, not only has on the victim, but on an entire family.

“The event was a huge success and was attended by 30 people. There are so many abused women seeking help and, admirably, many men are joining us to learn about GBV and how to prevent it.

“Men who attend become ambassadors in the fight against GBV. At the end of the programme most wanted to know when the next workshop would take place and showed keen interest to attend again,” Alexander said.

Topics under discussion included: forms of abuse, protection orders, narcissists, parental alienation, and the rights victims of abuse have when they approach the criminal justice system to get help.

Alexander reiterated that GBV and domestic violence and other forms of abuse thrive in an atmosphere of silence and secrecy, and it is imperative for victims to overcome the fear and speak out.

Alexander’s journey to tackle GBV and domestic violence head-on goes back to the 1990s. In 1998 he was approached by the justice department to be a justice of the peace. Then in 2004, he became a police reservist.

“Six months on the beat I witnessed a large number of GBV and domestic violence in Factreton and Kensington. That is when the interest to delve deeper into this social ill developed.”

It was only when he quit the police as a reservist on 16 March 2016 that he focused all his attention on doing something meaningful to address the issue.

His workshops started at the Kensington library and grew to at least one a month, but were halted in 2020 due to Covid-19.

About 30 people attended the gender-based violence workshop hosted by activist Kevin Alexander in Kensington, Cape Town, on Saturday. (Photo: Bryan Philander)

One of those who attended the workshop on Saturday was a young woman who was gang-raped in December 2020 in Bellville. She said she reported the incident to the SAPS on 26 December 2020, but didn’t receive a case number.

Alexander has since met the woman’s mother, who lives in a shack in Bellville. He was due to raise the incident with the police on Tuesday 22 March.

A 40-year-old divorced mother told Maverick Citizen that she was raped for about two years by her husband while they were still married. She said her road to recovery was assisted by a support system of a friend and counselling. 

“The counselling sessions weren’t easy, especially when I was told to get rid of my wedding dress. The wedding dress was a reminder of my ordeal, pain and an obstacle in my healing process. Getting rid of the past helps me a lot,” she said.

One of the male ambassadors, Greg Jacobs, said he found the workshop most informative and it had inspired him to become an ambassador in the fight against GBV.

“I will be supporting the initiative 110% and looking forward to the next workshop. It is important that more males should attend the workshops to come,” Jacobs said.

Social worker Ntando Sonxi said valuable information that came to the fore at the workshop would help him in his work with GBV victims and potential victims. DM/MC

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