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BeFree Cook-off encourages men to speak out against gender-based violence

Written by on May 20, 2024

Gender-based violence (GBV) response person at the #BeFree Youth Campus Zackary Itodo says men deprive themselves of the right to justice when they fail to report incidents of sexual and GBV to the relevant authorities.

Itodo said this while addressing young men during the third edition of the annual #BeFree Cook-Off competition in Windhoek on Saturday.

“Men keep things inside them and do not speak up, but one day they will explode and it becomes very disastrous. Men need to understand that they too go through abuse, either mentally, physically, emotionally, financially and sexually,” he said.

Furthermore, he highlighted that many resort to taking the law into their hands and using their fists instead of seeking help.

“Asserting authority and using your fist does not make you a man. Your ability to control yourself is what makes you a man,” he added.

Additionally, he said there is no harm in crying out for help as men and encouraging other young men to seek help instead of fighting.

He encouraged young people that are going through abuse to contact him on 081 4913 541 or visit his office at the #BeFree Youth Campus at the Multi-Purpose Youth Centre in Windhoek.

BeFree Youth Campus programmes manager Kaarina Iita said the cook-off competition aims to create a safe space for young men aged 13 to 35, who are able to prepare a dish with a mentor over the age of 35.

“The theme for this year is, ‘United in Diversity’, putting a message across that we are more united than we are divided. The fight is against violence, not ethnicity. Today, we brought men from all across the country, representing ethnic groups from all across the 14 regions,” she said.

Furthermore, Iita highlighted that the day is deliberately chosen close to the International Day of the Boy Child to allow men to sit and prepare meals with their mentors in order to discuss the various challenges that men face when it comes to mental health, sexual reproductive health, sexual and GBV rights and cancer, among other issues that they face.

“We decided to bring these cook-off competitions in order to break the stereotype that men cannot cook and it is a woman’s job to be in the kitchen. Every human should be able to cook and take care of themselves.”

Journalist Shelleygan Petersen encouraged the young men to call out their brothers when they are doing wrong and pick them up when they are going through something, regardless of their ethnic groups, because they are brothers and Namibians before they are Aawambo, Damara, OvaHerero, etc.

“Sexual and GBV has no ethnic groups, it happens everywhere. Just because men from your ethnic group have committed violence, it does not mean you too will commit violence because you come from the same ethnic group,” Petersen said.

One of the participants questioned what can be done to protect boys and men from inappropriate touching from elders, family, friends and strangers.

“Seek help by speaking out to an elder that you trust, friends or the various organisations that deal with such issues because those wounds will eventually hurt you when you are older,” Petersen said.

Fourteen groups battled it out with various traditional meals representing their cultures. Three emerged victorious and won cash prizes.

The third runner-up group walked away with N$2 000, the second runner-up walked away with N$3 000 and the winners got N$5 000.

The post BeFree Cook-off encourages men to speak out against gender-based violence appeared first on The Namibian.

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