Men taking responsibility Editorial
Stabroek News
April 19, 2004

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We applaud the formation of the Men Of Purpose (MOP). The primary objective of the group is to reduce the physical, sexual and emotional violence inflicted upon women by their menfolk.

As Minister of Labour Dale Bisnauth pointed out at the launching of the group on Friday, MOP's task will not be an easy one as the culture of violence is a deeply ingrained one. This has been reflected in the burgeoning number of cases of battered wives, women and children, murders, sexual violence and emotional and psychological abuse. The image of violence has also been sharpened by the criminality that the country has endured over the last few years. The endless recounting of tales of men with AK-47s riddling their targets with bullets has been vividly imprinted within us all and has triggered an unrelenting cycle of male-dominated violence.

MOP's immediate challenge will be to transform the state of relations in the home where for too long the Guyanese macho man has been intoxicated with the notion that because he is the breadwinner in the main he can impose his will by any means, and whenever he feels like it utilise violence to achieve this.

The flip side of this coin is that many women tolerate this violence because they believe they are powerless and that it is ordained that they take their licks to preserve their place in their home and for the sake of their children.

So there is unlikely to be a change in the situation unless both men and women and are counselled on their responsibilities and options. For MOP to attempt this is a welcome change. For too long men have avoided taking responsibility for their and their brethren's misbehaviour and any attempt by civil society to help in this process must be tapped.

And there are numerous other mandates that MOP can assume responsibility for. These include inculcating in men the sense of responsible parenting. So instead of three or four women seeking out the same absentee `child father' for support, the responsible man sires children in one home and plays his part fully. Too many youths are growing up these days without their fathers around because the fathers have no intention of performing their duties or are too busy splitting their time between their various homes and haunts.

Mentoring is another task that MOP can take on. Many youngsters have been blinded by the get rich/easy money syndrome and mindlessly idolize the false heroes foisted upon them by the benumbing diet of American `reality' television and other programming. Missing from their lives is the steady, firm hand guiding them through the maze of pitfalls, peer pressures and other dangers lurking in these very difficult circumstances.

MOP will also have to confront the destructive influence of alcohol abuse and the part this has played in fuelling rage-filled abuse of women and children and the renting of families.

Teaching men how to rationally and maturely deal with their frustrations, limitations and anger will also have to be a target for MOP.

Organisations like MOP tend to take off in a blaze of glory only to peter out in a haze of shifting focus, lost enthusiasm, disarray and bickering. We hope this is not the fate that awaits MOP and we urge men across the board to consider joining the organisation and subscribing to its core injunction of ending violence against women by ensuring this in their own homes, workplaces and neighbourhoods.