Department of Gender Affairs Director, Etsu Bradshaw-Caines, is encouraging men to discount stereotypes and report abuse at the hands of women. “We want everyone to report abuse, but we don’t want men to be afraid to report because they believe that when they go to the Police Station, they are going to laugh at them and say ‘this man come talk ’bout he woman beat him up,’she told The Observer. “Equally, we also want the women to know that they do not have the right to abuse a man in any way, not just physical abuse but verbal and other forms of abuse.”She urged the males not to be afraid to seek help through the services of the Department. Gender Officer Troy Watson said in most cases when gender-based violence is directed toward women, as is the majority of cases, there is a lot of talk about it. When the situation is reversed, however, the same does not apply. “When violence is directed towards men, society tends to be laid-back and say, ‘Well it’s ok. It’s a man being beaten, something is wrong with that man’. They are not seeing something wrong with the beating, but they see something wrong with the man for him to be beaten,”he said. “Not only that, when violence is meted out to boys and men, society often says, ‘They deserve it; they’re involved in something.”He continued, “What we promote is limiting violence in every form, so it doesn’t matter who it is directed to, we need to address it as violence. We want people to talk about their issues rather than fighting it out.”This year, Gender Affairs and Child Protection and Probation Services join activities to commemorate International Men’s Day (IMD) on November 19 and Universal Child’s Day on November 20. IMD’s international theme is ‘Working together to help men and boys’. Gearing up for IMD, the campaign and messages would focus on ending violence. One of the main thrusts is to speak out on discrimination against men and boys in relation to violence and other forms of abuse that they experience. A series of infomercials have been launched based upon the street theatre scenes of well-known dramatist Loughlin Tatem. “It’s education; it’s awareness; it’s about ending the violence. A lot of it would be about physical abuse, but as time goes on, we’ll look at psychological, financial and emotional abuse,’said Bradshaw-Caines, adding, “We’re using social media, as well, because that’s a way of getting to people.”The Director further explained that some men may have made mistakes in life, perhaps abused someone, and harbour emotions that make them feel they would always be bad, and that there is no hope for change. “We want men to understand that there is help for them. There is assistance. We want men to feel comfortable, and if there is something on their minds, come in and talk with us. We have counseling. This is where we can intercede to stop situations from going further. There is a lot of confidentiality, and we want to help prevent violence,’she indicated. The activities surrounding International Men’s Day includes a round-table television discussion with a panel of men addressing concerns and issues relating to men’s involvement in the formation of the National Gender Policy (Nov 10); talks with men; and basic health check services. During the course of the week, Gender Affairs officers would visit work places staffed primarily by men, such as Contec, Solid Waste Management Agency, and some departments in the large corporations. A church service at Zion Moravian is planned for Nov. 16, and on Nov. 17 officers from Gender Affairs and Child Protection will visit schools, focusing on ‘non-violent approaches to problem solving’. The activities culminate on Nov. 21 with a march from Victoria Road to downtown Basseterre. The march is open to all members of society and participants are asked to wear something purple against violence, or wear something blue and join the campaign, ‘Break the Silence of the Children’. The march ends at the old Treasury Apron, where Street Theatre, incorporating dance, drumming and poetry, will bring the message of the non-violent approach to life.