With the issue of gender-based violence and violence against children on the rise in South Africa, it is not enough that women be the only ones fighting against the presence and increase of cases.

Men need to be involved as well, and that is what the HeforShe Taverns project aims to facilitate. Implemented by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) Justice and Peace Commission and Klerksdorp Diocese in North West Province, the initiative wants to create conversations between men - and women - about the violence in their communities. 

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The project, now with 144 taverns involved, is a localised edition of the HeforShe initiative established by United Nations Women, and it aims to encourage solidarity in the fight against violence against women and children. The project was recently showcased in New York on 26th September at a United Nations Impact summit event.

We spoke to Robert Mafinyori, who is a coordinator working with HeforShe Taverns, about the initiative and he told us that they have taken this campaign and endorsed it in fighting violence against women and children. "[We are] calling all men to be at the forefront of fighting this violence in the community," he says. 

Robert explains that they use taverns as a place where men can meet and open dialogues around the violence against women and children. "At the heart of these interventions, we are trying to fight alcohol-related violence [and] we are using taverns owners as the gatekeepers." He adds that, as part of this initiative, tavern owners are encouraged to have a zero tolerance attitude when it comes to acts of violence within their establishments and their communities as a whole. 

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Robert confirms that since the project has been implemented, women have felt safer in respective community spaces and in taverns, and that men have been more involved in creating safe spaces for women and children. Moreover, the project also encourages tavern owners to organise testing events for HIV, high blood pressure, and other health issues in support of local clinics. 

As a church-led organisation, the organisers of HeforShe Taverns are reaching out to church leaders of various faiths to join the movement and expand the reach. It is a private project which is mainly based in Klerksdorp, however they currently planning to extend it to the Eastern Cape, Witbank, and Mamelodi, Robert explains. 

If you would like to be a part of the movement, you can call Robert on 012 323 6458; or you can go to the website and make your pledge to the cause.  

Are there any initiatives in your community that are joining the fight against violence against women and children? Tell us about them.

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