When men are engaged in Domestic Violence for Progress


Domestic Violence at its best. The beautiful part is that some men and women who care enough to change the situation through various means.

“I do think that humanity is moving forward even when it looks like we’re moving backward. If you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, we are progressing.”

Gender justice, according to Hilde Ousland Vandeskog, Ph.D. candidate at Oslo University and gender researcher from Norway, one of the most inclusive countries in Europe, needs a group initiative, including all.

During her studies, she heard about the Abatangamucos, a group of men in Burundi who are carrying out a revolution against gender-based Violence through theater.

Cry Like A Kid is Euronews’ first podcast output in conjunction with Africanews to foster a cross-border dialogue on gender stereotypes from five African countries’ viewpoints (Burundi, Senegal, Lesotho, Guinea, and Liberia). The project’s four journalists’ partner with a network of local correspondents in the countries covered.

In this episode, we continue the discussion between Grace-Françoise and Hilde, which was hosted by Khopotso Bodibe, a South African radio journalist and activist based in Johannesburg who specializes in health and gender issues. What do they think about these husbands who have avoided harassing their wives? Is their strategy successful in Burundi? Is it possible to export it?

Our roundtable guests in the French edition of this podcast (Dans la Tête des Hommes) are Gilles Lazimi, a French doctor who works against gender-based abuse, and Christine Ntahe, identified as Mamam Dimanche, who specializes in healing domestic and inter-ethnic tensions in Burundi.

Please listen to and subscribe to the show on euronews.com or Castbox, Spotify, Apple, Google, or Deezer, and leave a constructive comment if you so like.


Khopotso Bodibe: Hello and welcome to Weep Like a Child, a Euronews original series and podcast that examines how the expectation of being a guy can affect families and communities. Stay with us as we journey through Africa in search of men who defy centuries-old prejudices. I’m Khopotso Bodibe, and I’m calling from Johannesburg, South Africa. In this follow-up interview with our European gender specialist, Hilde Vandeskog, and Burundi-based activist Grace-Francoise Nibizi, we will dig deeper into the Abatangamuco, a youth group in Burundi comprised of men who are carrying out a movement against gender-based abuse through theater, transforming existing attitudes and mentalities, and combating domestic violence. We strongly encourage you to listen to the first half of this debate on our website.

As I previously said, there is a growing school of thinking that achieving gender equality necessitates men and youth participation, who are the primary perpetrators of gender inequality and upholders of patriarchal norms. What are your opinions on this? As we’ve seen with the Abatangamuco, how can men’s and boys’ participation be expanded? I’ll ask you this question first, Grace-Francoise.

Nibizi, Grace-Francoise: We’ve learned that we’ve never ever interacted with men and boys in any of our events over the last year. It’s almost as if we were all discussing amongst ourselves, amongst women, about how we’re trying to do more to educate women and girls so that they can at least be encouraged. I’m talking about it financially and socially. But it’s still important to teach boys, children, and men because what they’re doing is always a product of what they’ve learned.

They grew up in this manner. So, it’s critical to educate them to teach them that, while our society sees this and that, and they have been socialized to believe that women must be passive, submissive, reliant on men, helpless, and poor, they must be taught and told that this is not true. And that was achieved by schooling, sensitization, and involving men and boys to show them that women are not powerless but stronger.

That’s why the work Abatangamuco is doing is brilliant, is outstanding. Unfortunately, they are not adequately funded to reach the whole nation or provinces. I wish their concept could be exported to other countries because it is the same in Africa, Europe, and the rest of the world.

Khopotso Bodibe (Khopotso Bodibe): Thank you so much for your response. Your answer to the same issue, Hilde.

Hilde Ousland Vandeskog’s official name is Hilde Ousland Vandeskog. So, how do you engage boys and men? Yes, I believe it is an important part of achieving gender equity, and we do need systemic reform, and any systematic change must include the whole society. A society comprises men, women, children, boys, and individuals who do not identify as either gender, so achieving gender justice must be a collaborative endeavor involving all.

You know, to have programs and initiatives that specifically address men and boys to challenge them while still taking their struggles seriously. And, as this Cry Like a Boy series demonstrates, masculinity is toxic to all, not only women. Toxic masculinity is toxic to both boys and adults.

Let me send you an example. The Norwegian police had this very cool initiative a year or two ago. They took this term, known as kjernekar in Norwegian, which translates to “a very properly nice man.” They made this huge campaign that was plastered all over buses, essentially claiming that a kjernekar, a good man, is someone who can avoid his friends whether they are flirting with a person, bullying someone, or going home with or bringing home someone who is too intoxicated to agree to some kind of sex, you know.

To capitalize on the idea that guys ought to be decent guys, to make guys review each other’s tendencies, act on the more toxic and damaging facets of masculinity standards. And I thought it was a fascinating campaign. And I believe it is a positive step forward.


Khopotso Bodibe: Françoise, is there a growing awareness of toxic masculinities in Burundi? Is intelligence being disseminated, and is there enough of it?


Francoise Nibizi (Italy): Earlier this week, I posted on my WhatsApp status that I wanted to know if Burundians, especially Burundian men and boys, were aware of toxic masculinity. First and foremost, I wanted to know if there is a term in Kirundi for toxic masculinity.

And the questions I received both surprised and entertained me. I received over 50 different responses about the toxic masculinity environment itself. But in the end, I just kept two terms. One is akanyarigabo, which means “a guy who is bragging” in Kirundi. It does not sufficiently describe toxic masculinity. It explains how a man or a child would stand on his own, whether he is doing something bad or something good. He must stand firm in his judgments.

And this proved to me that toxic masculinity does not exist in their brains, brains, or hearts. And that means it’s something that needs to be discussed more openly to teach men and boys. The whole population needs to be enlightened to see that toxic masculinity is very poor, very dangerous, and has a very clear impact, whether on women themselves, the whole society, or the entire nation. So toxic masculinity in Burundi needs to be debated more publicly.

It’s great that we have a community of people who recognize that some of our cultural values are very dangerous. As I said earlier, I think it would take a long time to adjust because it is ingrained in our society. But I think it will be a triumph in the end.

Khopotso Bodibe (Khopotso Bodibe): Hilde is a female name. Can you tell us about your background as a European woman working with the Abatangamuco? What were the findings? And discuss this with us.

So, I went to Burundi, Hilde Ousland Vandeskog. For the first time in my life, I was there about nine years ago, driving out in the countryside and seeing these guys. I recall my interpreter, who had assisted me in setting up the interviews. He told me that many of the men wished to do the interviews with their wives’ present. And I remember saying, you know, I don’t think that’s a smart idea because, you know, he may not talk as honestly because she might, you know because I was expecting her to back him up and be accommodating and find it impossible to get some important questions.

I found a fascinating pattern in which these men would chat, often with a sense of humor, but often with a sense of remorse and self-reflection on how they had mistreated their companion, who was sitting next to them.

And she would be supplementing and correcting his story, which he would fully embrace. And I realized that this was not only a story about the man’s transformation, but also about the woman’s transformation, the couple’s transformation, and the transformation of a whole family from one that was governed by a very toxic sort of masculinity to one where the man will, you know, start to agree that he should listen to his wife, cooperate with his wife, do some of the wife’s work, but also step out of expectations of femininity.

And it was fun to see if it was a journey for all of them. One of my biggest findings is how fascinating it was and how it made the family closer together. Another thing was the men’s zeal for spreading the message and convincing other men in their families, you know, through art theater, debates, that they, too, wanted to make these improvements to be happier. Not only because it was the best thing to do, or because it was some sort of spiritual obligation, but because it was good for them and good for the world because they would feel happier. They would do best if they stepped away from toxic masculinity.

And that was fascinating to me, and I’m thrilled now because it’s been a while since I did this research. I’ve been thrilled to listen to the podcasts that you’ve been doing and see that the movement is still thriving, and to see many of the men that I met to see how sustainable it has proven to be, I believe. Isn’t this amazing?


Khopotso Bodibe (Khopotso Bodibe): Hilde, what are your predictions of women’s rights worldwide? If you have a negative outlook? Do you believe in yourself? And it doesn’t matter if you’re cynical or positive.

Hilde Ousland Vandeskog: I’m an optimist at heart. And when it appears that civilization is regressing, I assume that we are improving. We are changing if you take a step back and look at the big picture. It’s getting better in Europe and the United States, and I agree the Metoo campaign was a landmark moment in Western countries. And it demonstrated how there was also in a nation like Norway, where we seem to get complacent and believe that, hey, you know, we’ve accomplished gender equity, we’re nice. We’re so equal, you know. There was a discussion to be about the very destructive, secret effects of gender stereotypes, gender norms, gender hierarchy in the workplace, cultural life, etc.

We were able to have the debate. It just brought up this change in cultural opinion about, you know, taking women seriously and women’s perspectives seriously. And, of course, there are consequences. Of course, some object to terms like toxic tax masculinity because they see it as suggesting that all masculinity is toxic. And, once again, we will have these conversations indefinitely. There will always be repercussions. There will always be patches of advancement and pockets of stagnation.

But, ultimately, I believe I am hopeful. I see increased comprehension, more nuanced understandings of the negative effects of gender inequality, and a greater desire to see the hidden impact of gender inequality as well as the hidden differences themselves. So, yes, it will rise and fall, back and forth, backlashes, and grow. In the grand scheme of life, though, I am an optimist.

Khopotso Bodibe: May I ask you the same question, Françoise?


Francoise Nibizi (Italy): Sure, of course. I’m feeling upbeat. I’m confident, and I can see what the Abatangamuco are up to. And, as I previously said, it will take a long time. But, at the very least, it began. It began. And what the Abatangamuco are attempting to do is transform the way people live. And reforming a community’s way of life cannot be accomplished in a year or two.

But I’m optimistic that it will happen in the end, even though it will take a long time. For the time being, I am aware that not all men change their ways as a result of being or hearing messages or testimony from the Abatangamuco change.

I’m aware that it’s a lengthy process. To be an Abatangamuco, a man must demonstrate different responsibilities and expose himself as someone who can be a peer. As a result, it’s a time-consuming operation. And the ideals and beliefs of Abatangamuco. It’s especially difficult for young men and boys because they’re used to something else. So that won’t happen in a single day, year, or five years. But I’m certain that things will improve in the end. It will improve, and we will achieve the gender equity for which we have fought. Thank you so much.

Khopotso Bodibe (Khopotso Bodibe): And you so much to all of you. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Sharing with you has been a great learning experience.

This show was created in collaboration with Khopotso Bodibe, Clarice Shaka in Burundi, Marta Rodrguez-Martinez, Lillo Montalto-Monella, and Naira Davlashyan in Lyon. Special thanks to Lory Martinez and Studio Ochenta for supporting us in creating this podcast under difficult circumstances.


Source: Africanews


Related Posts

Illuminating the Promise of Africa.

Receive captivating stories direct to your inbox that reveal the cultures, innovations, and changemakers shaping the continent.