Fatherlessness is the leading cause of gender-based violence says founder of Father A Nation
"Fatherlessness has a huge impact on gender-based violence. In fact, I would say it’s the leading cause," says Craig Wilkinson, founder and director of Joburg-based NPO Father A Nation.
Craig Wilkinson (dadcoachonline.com) ( )
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"The opposite of masculinity is not femininity, it’s passivity," wrote Craig Wilkinson in 2017. "All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing," he added in a blog titled #NotInMyName: Five actions every man can take.

Clearly, the issue of toxic masculinity and gender-based violence is not new to Craig.

As founder and director of Joburg-based Father A Nation (FAN), an NPO that works with men in communities, he has spent years fighting toxic masculinity and striving to equip men to be great fathers and leaders. He is also the author of Dad and It's a Dad!, and he's the coach behind dadcoachonline.com.  

In light of the current crisis of gender-based violence, which has seen women and students taking to the streets in protest, demanding interventions and improvements, we asked him to share his insights with Parent24.

Why are two-thirds of South African families without a present father?

South Africa has a long history of families being broken up; migrant labour, single-sex hostels and forced separation being some of the prime culprits.

This creates a multi-generational cycle of family disintegration which is very difficult to restore.

How does this impact the rate of gender-based violence?

Fatherlessness has a huge impact on gender-based violence. In fact, I would say it's the leading cause. 

No man is born an abuser or a rapist, something happens on the journey from boy to man. Men growing up without fathers, mentors and role models often grow up wounded and without an understanding of what it means to be a man.

Authentic masculinity uses its strength well to love, serve, honour, protect and provide. Wounded men, with a false idea of what it means to be a man, are dangerous to both themselves and those around them.

They often become passive and fail to take responsibility for their lives, escaping into all kinds of addictions, or they become aggressive and abusive.

How do we turn this around?

This is not something that will self-correct. We need to intentionally restore, equip, inspire and mobilise men to be great fathers, mentors and role models.

This needs to become a national priority and needs to be aimed at every level of our society – from the very top. 

  • Leaders need to drive this
  • Men need to drive this
  • Organisations in both the public and private sectors need to get behind this

So how can we all work to “heal men, so we can heal society”?

As individual men we need to look in the mirror to see our own woundedness, we need to examine our beliefs about masculinity, to value women as equals and finally commit to mentoring and fathering the next generation well.

Each woman can add her power to this by valuing her own womanhood, not accepting false masculinity, validating authentic masculinity and being a great mother, mentor and role model.

As a society, we need to stop defining and valuing each other by what group we fall into and to start treating each other with equal honour and respect as fellow human beings.

For every man, woman and organisation to not tolerate any form of abuse – verbal, psychological, emotional, economic – from ourselves or anyone else and to build a culture of love and truth. 

Find more on the topic of gender-based violence below: 

An excuse to look away? It's time to stop saying 'boys will be boys'

"It is a social story which we have all bought into and allows us to look away from behaviour we do not want to address."

How #MeToo and #AmInext will impact parenting in 2019

It's now more important than ever to create a safe space at home where kids feel comfortable enough to ask and share the more difficult topics.

WATCH: Local teen brilliantly explains what is wrong with South African society today

The current crisis of gender-based violence we face in South Africa today has inspired one teen to take a stand, sharing his frustrations with his peers and society in general in this insightful 10-minute video.

‘Hey, you can’t talk to girls like that’: Which gender-based violence interventions actually work?

With gender-based violence statistics remaining at shocking levels, South Africans are interrogating the root causes of this social scourge.

OPINION: Who is responsible for improving the current crisis of gender-based violence in South Africa?

I know how to raise my daughter so she can avoid becoming a victim, but do I really know how to raise my son to not become a perpetrator?

Understanding rape culture and teaching your children about it

It is the acceptance of rape as "inevitable" in a society that says “don’t get raped” as opposed to “do not rape.” A society that teaches rape prevention instead of consent.

Local NGO provides legal support and other free resources to victims of domestic abuse and gender-based violence

The Warrior Institute works to eliminate domestic violence in South Africa and makes information and resources available to survivors of gender-based violence via its free online portal. 

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