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Juliana Davids: South Africa’s Future

Twenty-five-year-old Juliana Davids began with Men As Partners (MAP) in 2002 while she was working as a voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) counselor at Pollsmoor prison in Cape Town, South Africa. As a full-time VCT counselor and student at the University of the Western Cape, Ms. Davids was an inspired and inspiring MAP workshop leader and activist in the prevention of gender-based violence.

Why did you get involved with MAP?
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 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.

How are you involved with MAP?
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 coworker, the way he speaks with his wife and especially his teenage daughter—he thinks twice now about what he says. It gave me hope: people can change and the MAP program can make that possible.

What impact has MAP had on your life?
The MAP program has taken a mountain off me. I have started to trust men more— not all men—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. You walk around panicky and nervous all the time—you don’t speak to anybody—that’s what the stress and lack of trust does. MAP wants people to talk and expose abuse with the aim of healing and peace.

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