Cooking, washing clothes, cleaning and childcare, tames men who once thought it was only the women’s job. Like most men, Jean Pierre 32 lives in Mwulire in Eastern Province in Rwanda and leaves domestic chores to his wife. Impatient, angry, demands perfection due to lack of awareness that a woman’s job is 24/7 so never ends day or night. He becomes aggressive if his wife did not meet the standards of his expectations so beats her. A grassroots intervention program trying to reduce domestic violence in Rwanda teaches men how to do household chores, and a recent study suggested it has a positive effect on communities. So Muhoza Jean Pierre used to beat his wife because he saw her as someone he married just to have children and and look after them. “I was following example of my father. My father did not do anything at home,” he said. “If ever I came home and found something not done yet I insult her. “I called her lazy, told her she was useless so must go back to her parent’s house.” But something changed after he learnt to cook and clean. It was all part of a grassroots intervention programme in Mwulire village in Eastern Province, Rwanda encouraging men’s domestic roles, including childcare. Jean Pierre says the project called, ‘Bandebereho’ or role model in Kinyarwanda helps tamed and transformed his behaviour. He took part in classes covering everything from cooking and cleaning and discuss how to challenge men’s traditional gender roles. “They asked, if a man can sweep the house, and we would say ‘he can’,” he said. “And then they would ask us: ‘Who among you does that?’ And there was no one.”
Real men shouldn’t cook
Facilitators from ‘Bandebereho’ taught Jean Pierre how to do tasks previously he believed his wife should do. He also added: “We would go home and try to put this into practice. “Then we would go back to training with witnesses who would testify they had observed some changes in us. “I know how to cook. I do laundry for the kids. I know how to peel plantains, I know how to pound dry cassava and sift the flour.” Jean Pierre and his wife have been married for 10 years and never helped her before. And making changes was not easy as Jean Pierre’s friends discouraged him from doing household tasks, telling him: ‘No real man should cook.’ “My family and friends said my wife bewitched me by giving me some magic drugs. They said no genuine man should carry a bundle of firewood in the street because that is for henpecked men,” he said. But Jean Pierre continued when he saw benefits to his family. He says his children feel closer to him and his wife now runs a banana business that has allowed them to improve their home. “The way my wife treats me now is different from the way she used to treat me,” he said. “She used to treat me badly because I was mistreating her too, but now we discuss and agree on things to do. “I set her free, now she is working and I am working too; whereas before I was convinced she had to stay home and be available whenever I would need her.” Fear and little freedom affected Jean Pierre’s wife Musabyimana Delphine who says she used to have little freedom and lived in fear. She said: “Sometimes I felt like a mere worker, and I would remember a worker has a salary. “I never thought a woman can ever have her own money, because I never even had time to think about any activity that generate money. “Now I have enough freedom in house, I go out and work for money like others. Start training young boys now so when they grow up they will help their wife and help look after the children. When both work, it’s a burden on the woman to care for the family or children alone.The ‘Bandebereho’ project taught Jean Pierre to do tasks previously believed his wife should do. Delphine leaves at 5am to sell plantains at a market, while Jean Pierre stays at home and takes care of their four young children. “I come home relaxed and find food ready,” she said. The project’s curriculum originally developed in Latin America by global fatherhood campaign MenCare believes true equality will only be reached when men take on 50% of world’s childcare and domestic work. The research looks into changing men’s attitudes towards family care and traditional domestic. It was soon realised the good impact on men. A study looking at couples taking part in the project found two years after taking childcare lessons in Rwanda men were less likely to use violence against their female partners than those who did not attend the classes. But the study suggested one in three women whose partners took part in the programme still reported experiencing intimate partner violence. National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda, released a data in 2015, around 52% of men in the country were violent towards partners. Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre, which delivered the programme in the country, wants ‘Bandebereho’ to be widely adopted by communities and country’s government. Fidele Rutayisire the chairman of centre, said: “We still have negative social norms, negative masculinity perception cultural barriers as main factors of high violence against women in Rwanda. “Traditionally men don’t take care of children here but men control sex, resources, decision-making. “When men are actively involved in the home they realise sacrifices of women in childcare so their attitude on gender changes positively, they understand the value of gender equality.” Delphine and Jean Pierre said the program benefited their family and the whole community. “We are now on honeymoon, 10 years after our wedding,” said Jean Pierre. If there is conflict or security issue in our neighbourhood our opinion is respected because they see we don’t have problem in our household. Men appreciate and help their wives and not demand they do all the housework or take care of the family, business, Church alone without support of husbands. A happy wife is a happy life and the Bible says love your wife as Christ loved His bride Church and gave His life for you. Timothy says a husband must first look after his family and own household before serving the Church. Don’t neglect your wife and the children in the NAME OF GOD leisurely talking to single women while your wife and children at home suffer. Remember your wife is that same beautiful single woman you married and used her body to give birth to your children. And don’t abandon her for fresh young woman to give birth later to become abandoned as wife. This causes baby mama problems because men want to eat their cake and have it. So wants exclusive attention of wife at the expense of the children some are jealous of. Forget their parents took great care of them as done to children. Grow up and be father to the children to mature a responsible man not manchild depending on wife as mother. For even the Son of Man Jesus did not come to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many says Mark 10:45.
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BBC 100 Women names 100 influential and inspirational women around the world every year and shares their stories. It’s been a momentous year for women’s rights around the globe, so in 2018 BBC 100 Women will reflect the trailblazing women who are using passion, indignation and anger to spark real change in the world around them.