Source: All Africa
Botswana is targeting men in the police services, armed forces and prisons in a campaign to tackle violence against women, a government official said on Tuesday.

Men Sector, a state-run organisation set up in 2000 to educate men about HIV/AIDS, has broadened its scope to combat alcohol and substance abuse, teenage pregnancies and domestic violence.

"When we started it was just to get men involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS, but then we found that there were many other interlinked social problems which we could use the same platform to engage with men on," Budani Madandume of Men Sector told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

More than two thirds of women in Botswana have experienced some form of gender violence, including violence at the hands of a partner, according to a 2012 study by the U.N. World Population Fund (UNFPA).

Madandume said Men Sector worked with the army, police and prisoners, bringing men together in traditional gatherings known as "Pitso ya Borre", where they are encouraged to discuss their personal problems, rare in Botswana's patriarchal society.

Issues such as financial problems, lack of employment opportunities and family pressures are often broached first. But over time, the men become more confident to talk about personal challenges such as relationships, child custody issues and sexual health.

"I think just by having this dialogue with men is beginning to make a difference," Madandume said on the sidelines of the MenEngage Conference in Delhi, which brings together organisations to discuss how to engage men in the struggle for gender equality.

"Men often feel they are left out of the conversation and this helps them to understand how they should view their partners, their daughters and mothers in a non-stereotypical role."

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