A new advocacy group has been launched with the aim of driving men away from violence by discussing their problems and becoming more in tune with their feelings and emotions.
During the official launch of Men’s Empowerment and Network Support (MENS) at the Barbados Family Planning Association (BFPA), President Fabian Sargeant expressed concern at the alarming disparity between men and women perpetrating acts of violence in their homes, schools and communities.
The professional social worker told a packed room at the association on Thursday that hundreds of men are simply crying out for a space and a programme, which allows them to discuss their problems.
“The prison has over 700 men to about 38 women. The Psychiatric Hospital is about two-thirds men and when we look at the substance abuse entities, men dominate them,” contended Sargeant.
Referencing the most recent murder, which occurred last Friday at the Frederick Smith Secondary School, he argued too often Governments employ knee-jerk and ad hoc reactions to appease the society at the expense of meaningful long-term solutions.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results and I don’t think people are exploring new possibilities, being innovative and really observing our environment.
“We must invest in men not only at the advanced stage but at the beginning. We’ve got to invest a lot more in parenting programmes because we need strong parents…that is where it starts. We need to get into the homes in Barbados and look at the fellows that are on the block and at every single level in our society and try to think differently,” he said in an emotional address.
Sargeant revealed he had lost his sister in May of 2016 to a domestic dispute and has watched in horror at the worrying number of women who have lost their lives under similar circumstances.
“It pains me when I hear the stories and when I see men being served with summonses and having to go to court over child support. People are battling and fighting…some of these men are on the brink of snapping and we really don’t want men to snap. When men snap, they kill. That is the reality in Barbados. When a man snaps, somebody dies whether we like it our lump it and even if it is himself. We do not want men snapping anymore. We want men to understand that they have alternatives and they have choices,” said Sargeant.
He added the new group would examine issues like Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and why men were afraid to be tested for certain ailments.
“When we look at preventative measures we also have to look at other things like NCDs. Men are only being diagnosed with illnesses in the advanced stages of the diseases. We are here to provide an environment of education, support and advocacy,” said Sargeant.
The first meeting held recently had 30 attendees, and according to Sargeant, one of the main programmes to be instituted includes Men talk which is conducted at the BFPA and allows men to show up and discuss important issues affecting them.
He stressed the programme was not intended to compete with already existing men’s groups or to wage war on feminist groups.
“We are here to give men the tools and skills necessary for them to be better citizens, better fathers, better role models and better husbands. That is what this is about,” he said.