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The scourge of gender-based violence in society has been the key focus of school assemblies over the past two weeks. The boys have taken a stand against all forms of gender-based violence. A core of concerned Grade 11 students (the Matrics are writing prelim exams) took the lead in finding a way to speak out against this scourge.

On Friday morning this group of 20 Grade 11 boys travelled to our sister school, Parktown High School for Girls, to speak out in their Assembly against all forms of gender-based violence.

Grade 11 Maselino Pooe spoke first, outlining the stand against gender based violence being taken by the school and acknowledging that this is a men’s issue, first and foremost.

‘It takes a real man to read it out aloud’

Hamzah Patel then addressed the assembly and stated that he and the 20 boys present representing Parktown Boys’ High would be reading out aloud the pledge made by the boys against gender based violence and the accepting of responsibility which goes with this.

The boys had chosen to read out aloud the ‘#mypromise’ pledge publicised by Independent Newspapers over the past week. The pledge was then read out with each boy promising to stand up and be counted, and to be accountable. Following the applause by the assembly, Parktown Boys’ Head Prefect Dean Fin spoke, commending the Grade 11’s on their initiative and acknowledging that their words were a commitment to change the mind-set of patriarchy and entitlement assumed by men and boys for centuries.

Later in the day Independent Newspapers’ ‘#mypromise’ pledge was read out by the whole school at the Parktown Boys’ assembly. A written pledge of commitment, arranged by the RCL and signed by boys and male staff, will be delivered to the offices of POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse) early next week.

We shall continue to foster the positive concept of ‘Manliness’.

Headmaster Malcolm Williams stated he was very pleased with these student-led initiatives and the sincerity with which the boys had approached this burning issue. He went on to say “It is our Core Values, our DNA, which guide us as we grapple with the challenging issues of wanton acts of violence and/or xenophobic attacks, and gender based violence, which are currently endemic in our society. To counter all that is ‘toxic masculinity’, we shall continue with our programme of growing our concept of ‘Manliness’ – founded upon respect for others; authenticity; empathy; compassion; courage; selfhood; resilience and acknowledging the need to speak out when one’s values are compromised. It is this values-based moral leadership which will ensure we grow good husbands, good sons, good fathers, good brothers and good leaders, who will make a difference in our school and in their society.”

We fully support the initiative by Independent Newspapers to challenge the men in our society to speak out against all forms of gender-based violence.

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