All-male panel calls for more to be done to combat violence against men

Research has shown that male victims of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) do not speak out until the issue has become a crisis because they, among other things, worry about their image—that they would be perceived as less masculine if they reported the abuse.
This was a topic of conversation when the University of Guyana (UG), last Friday, held a panel discussion entitled: “Guyanese Men Can: Disrupt Tolerance for Violence” in commemoration of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (November 25-December 10).
According to Dr Astell Collins, a man is less likely to go to the Police station to report that he is being abused by a woman. “So, not only is violence against men underreported, it is not even reported at all”, Dr Collins pointed out. Considering this, he called for an aggressive and all-around approach to GBV whether it is violence against women or violence against men.
He suggested that there be a national programme that sets targets to reduce the issue.
“We really need to have a national day where we can just discuss and have the experts inform the decisions. When I was at Caricom, you usually bring in people who are affected [by violence] …like a cross-pollination. So, you have the intellectual capital and those who are actually enduring the abuse and you have a framework that addresses the issue…,” he said.
For his part, Dr Lidon Lashley shared that it is a “normalised thing” for male victims of violence to conceal it because it is expected that they are the perpetrators. In making his point, he pointed to studies conducted on the underperformance of males at the elementary level.
“It shows that those males that underperform are often flogged (beaten). The association with that is that when we socialise males and females in the elementary level of education, it is more likely that when that boy does something, he is punished more severely that when a girl does something. And sometimes the action the boy is being punished for is an action that is natural for a man—to run, to explore, to probably look a little untidy earlier on in the day—than the female who socialise differently but yet he is punished. When that boy grows up and becomes a man, women or other persons in authority are trying to tell that man how to behave and what is expected of his behaviour as if he cannot process for himself what his behaviour should be…So, then you are trying to make a man a child for a second time. No wonder when something happens, the man is intimidated and reverts to his inner child when violence is perpetrated.”
Pastor Patrick Findlay, who is also the Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), said that over the years, there has been a greater prevalence of violence perpetrated against men. However, when it comes to GBV, he pointed out that “we limit the scope of what happens”.
According to him, men might not get beaten and go to report it to the Police station but they are verbally abused and emotionally emasculated.
“A lot of women who abuse men are victims of their own childhood experiences. They may have seen in their homes, their father beating their mother and she vowed that that would never happen to me—no man ain’t knocking me. And so, she comes as the aggressor…”
He explained that the home is the foundation and “what we do in the home is being reproduced when the kids leave the homes.”

Healing spaces
Apart from being abused by women, Vidyaratha Kissoon, an activist, related that men are also abused by other men. He also noted the importance of men seeking healing spaces.
He told those gathered that all the services that exist in Guyana to tackle violence provide support to men, adding that the domestic violence and sexual offences legislations are all gender-neutral.
It is okay for a man to go and get help from the Human Services and Social Security Ministry’s 914 toll-free hotline, Help, and Shelter, or their doctor, said Kissoon.
Pastor Findlay disclosed that the Human Services and Social Security Ministry’s Gender-Based Unit, the Guyana Police Force (GPF), the different religious organisations, and counsellors also provide help but there remains a problem: “We have to get men to go to these places.”
UG student Marlon Hernandez, on the other hand, said there needs to be more awareness of GBV specifically against men, and the different avenues of therapy and coping mechanisms.
“For females, they will also get to see a therapist. Whereas for males, it is not really a topic that is discussed. If we can normalise therapy because it is taboo.” He said, too, that people often associate therapy with being “insane” or “a weak link”. However, he made it clear that this belief is wholly misguided. “If therapy is normalised, it would contribute to a space where men can feel more comfortable in expressing their emotions,” Hernandez offered. (G1)