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Story from the Front Lines: Rule by Rape

Listen and watch as Juliana talks about her experiences.

Juliana Davids was Program Associate for EngenderHealth’s Men As Partners® (MAP) program in South Africa. She recently joined the organization Sonke Gender Justice.

How did you get started with EngenderHealth’s Men As Partners program?

I wanted to work with men because of my past and how it molded me. I wanted to find out more about why men do what they do. Why did my stepdad sexually abuse me? Why did he beat my mom? Why do men rape? Because of their manhood? Ego? I’ve learned from MAP that we are socialized to be a certain way. Men are socialized to be tough, to show that they are in control—have physical power. Socialization has been a new word for me—not as an excuse for men to do whatever they want, but giving me a deeper understanding of why men act and do the things they do.

I was blown away by the content of MAP material. It moved me to places I did not want to go before, dealing with my own past—the sexual abuse I suffered as a child and the physical abuse my mom went through.

How are you involved with the organization?

I run workshops. The workshops are very personal and very intense because they deal with issues around HIV, violence, gender values, relationships—things that men don’t generally speak about. They learn how to be vulnerable, to be healed, to be different. I’ve also been doing some MAP activities with a few of my friends on Friday evenings, because I love doing it!

How were you able to transform abuse into activism?

Seeing men change gave me hope. I was one of two women in my MAP training. I witnessed firsthand how the men changed in the way they spoke to me, in the way they speak to women now. This one co-worker, the way he speaks with his wife and especially his teenage daughter has changed—now he thinks twice about what he says. It gave me hope: People can change, and the MAP program can make that possible.

How has this impacted your life?

It’s taken a mountain off me. I have started to trust men more—not all men, of course—I’m still aware like any other woman. But I’m more open to men; I don’t suspect every man to be a rapist. I used to walk around panicky and nervous all the time—not speaking to anybody—that’s what the stress and lack of trust do. But not now; MAP encourages people to talk and expose abuse with the aim of healing and peace.