We live in a society where double standards regarding how we treat the sexes are pervasive and oftentimes blurred. What if the opposite had happened where four boys had beaten a girl? We can be sure that the society would have been outraged and demanding for some type of punishment for the culprits involved? We still hold unto our traditionally gender roles which says males should be tough and assertive and females should be passive and fragile. The perceived problem occurs when these gender roles are crossed and we become unsure how to treat the individual. Clearly this youngster did not fit into the hegemonic notion of masculinity hence he was targeted by these girls.
School bullying in any form, and committed by any sex, is unacceptable and should be punished to the full extent of the law and the authorities. The Ministry of Education needs to be more forceful regarding the enforcement of an anti-bullying policy for all schools. Too many cases of bullying occur daily in our schools, and sadly, too many of them go unreported.
The young man beaten will undoubtedly suffer great emotional and psychological distress for a long time to come. He was emasculated, ridiculed and beaten. Disturbingly, we live in a society where there are no support groups for males who suffer abuse. During the discourse on gender relations, very often it is difficult to find support groups for men and boys. We tend to forget that gender equality speaks to men’s issues as well as to women’s.
The time has become for us to pay as much attention to abused boys as we do abused girls. Gender equality must be all encompassing in order to have sustainable development and to benefit both sexes.