Namibian men have been asked to seek help when they are facing challenges or are emotionally under pressure.
This came during the third national men’s conference at Ondangwa in the Oshana region on Friday.
The conference was held under the theme ‘Zero Male Suicide: Promoting Positive Masculinity’. It was attended by more than 500 men.
Speaking at the event, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (Elcin) general secretary Johannes Haufiku said men in Namibia do not want help.
“Even if I am not feeling well or I am sick, I do not want to tell anyone that I’m sick,” he said.
“Apparently real men do not show they are sick. You did not choose to be sick. Apparently that is cowardice and is a women’s issue.
“As we came here today, there are men who are sick and need help. Some have thoughts of commiting suicide,” Haufiku said.
He referred to the recent case of a man who took his life on his wedding day.
“What is wrong with us?” Haufiku asked.
“We are getting sick because we do not want to share our problems as men,” he said.
Haufiku said men need to share their pain.
“We need to tell our brothers, sisters and our leaders that we are not okay,” he said.
The reverend said men have three roles to play, which they cannot do without employment.
“We need jobs. We always want to be at the helm of the house, but we can only do this if we seek help from others,” he said.
Regarding gender-based violence (GBV), he said women need to respect the dignity of men too.
“We need equal treatment, respect, rights and dignity in this country.”
Haufiku said men are afraid of retiring, because when they do, their wives reject them.
“You will end up a useless person. Women don’t respect the dignity and rights of men,” he said.
He said HIV-AIDS is spread by not using condoms and through the abuse of power.
“Let all men be circumcised to stop the spread of HIV-AIDS. The Bible says circumcision is not enough, though,” Haufiku said.
He said people’s minds should also be “circumcised” to stop them from abusing their partners.
Speaking at the same event, the deputy minister of marginalised communities, Royal /Ui/o/oo, said men must seek help when they are hurt, instead of resorting to violence.
He said men must also support victims of GBV and promote positive masculinity to end the scourge of GBV and encourage a culture of reporting GBV cases.
“Men must be actively involved in the upbringing of their children. If you know you have a baby somewhere, support the baby and don’t give us a tough time as the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare.
“But if you don’t want the child, bring it to us and do not resort to GBV.”
Oshana regional governor Elia Irimari said it is crucial to recognise the importance of men’s engagements in addressing GBV.
“Men have a significant role to play in creating an environment that promotes gender equality, respect and non-violence,” he said.
Irimari said the men’s conference is a step towards transforming toxic societal norms and attitudes that perpetuate inequality, GBV and suicide.
Commissioner Eliakim Shikongo, Namibian Correctional Service (NCS) representative at the conference, said the service currently houses 4 677 offenders, of which 4 538 are men.
He said many have been sentenced due to GBV-related offences.
“Consequent to this, the NCS introduced various rehabilitation programmes for offenders aimed at addressing factors that lead to these offences,” Shikongo said.
He said one of the programmes focuses on thinking and living skills.
“This programme teaches inmates about their dysfunctional thinking patterns and promotes prosocial thinking behaviours. Another programme is on societal factors that perpetuate GBV,” he said.
Thus far, a total of 2 778 inmates participated in these programmes between April 2018 and September 2023.
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