Inattention to poor men’s needs for jobs and improved livelihoods is hindering efforts to eliminate various forms of violence in many African countries, a researcher has said.
Chima Izugbara, a researcher at African Population and Health Research
Centre, a Pan-African research institution based in Nairobi, said that lack of economic empowerment of men living in slums has made it hard for many nations to curb violence against women, substance abuse and rise in HIV/Aids infections.
“Poor men have higher prevalence of physical violence against women, sexual molestation, alcoholism and they do not bother about measures to protect themselves from HIV, which leads to a higher prevalence,” noted Izugbara, who was speaking in Nairobi on Saturday during a forum on poverty and masculine violence in Kenya’ s slums.
HIV prevalence in Kenya stands at 7.4 per cent. However, among the urban poor, the prevalence is at 12 per cent.
This, according to the researcher, is blamed on negative forms of masculine behaviour among men, including non-use of condoms, sexual violence and multiple sexual liaisons.
Izugbara noted that there is need for African governments to address violent and self-destructive masculine behaviour among urban poor men through poverty eradication.
“Dearth of economic opportunities has made men unable to accomplish their responsibilities and meet demands of manliness,” he said.
He observed that lack of opportunities and poor livelihoods in Kenya’s urban poor settlements, as in other African nations, has created the most sinister forms of violence.
“The men have to rob, steal, hurt, mug and engage in other forms of negative behaviours for survival and to provide for their households.This leads to cyclic violence and insecurity in the society,” he said.
He advised that there should be efforts to help the urban poor become allies, rather than foes, in the global struggle for gender equity.
“Empowered men contribute readily to peace-building and harmonious existence,” noted Izugbara.
To curb violence in societies and advance social change, Izugbara suggested that African governments must engage men in the fight against lifestyles that hurt or kill them and those around them through economic liberation.
“Current violence prevention work with men in Africa has neglected the place of livelihoods in men’s social practices and behaviour,” he said.
In Kenya, for instance, he noted there is a boom in interventions and efforts to support violence prevention against men pursued through community education, advocacy and campaigns. However, according to Izugbara, results of the campaigns are far from being impressive.
“These interventions despite consuming lots of resources have not yielded much because they continue to shift attention from economic issues that drive men into violence,” he noted.