Mozambican men tackle domestic violence

Meet the non-profit art group trying to end violence against women in Mozambique. By Rebecca Cooke

On the fringes of FEIMA arts market in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, people crowd around as a man yells angrily and punches the man standing next to him, who is wearing a skirt.

The onlookers do not intervene. Instead, they let out a collective laugh. The man in the skirt bows down to his attacker, whimpering melodramatically and falling to his knees.

This is performance theatre, presented by non-profit HopeM. The all-male drama draws the public in with slapstick comedy that is designed to ‘teach men that violence is not the way’, according to HopeM project worker Albert Panera.

It’s one of HopeM’s many art initiatives aimed at ending violence against women in Mozambique, where men dominate society and nearly half of all girls are married before they turn 18.

‘I sing wherever I can, in schools, at community meetings, to teach men that this is not right for our daughters. This is not how to be a strong man,’ says singer songwriter Joao Rabeca, cradling his guitar. He takes pride in using the power of music and storytelling to try to end child marriage in the Jago region, 320 kilometres north of Maputo, claiming: ‘I am the only man who does this.’

Mozambique’s government launched a national strategy in 2016 to end child marriage and reduce economic inequality between the sexes.

Pic: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Australia