Special Service Desk Helping Men to Be Their Best

Story Highlights

  • The Special Service Desk for Men, located at the offices of the Bureau of Gender Affairs (BGA), has been helping men to be productive members of society.
  • The Desk serves as a central point in providing awareness on a range of issues, for example, parenting, health, education and the role of men in the elimination of violence against women, among others.
  • Speaking with JIS News, Research Officer at the Bureau of Gender Affairs, and Focal Point person for the Special Service Desk for Men, Nashan Miller, says that men are often seen as the perpetrators of violence.

The Special Service Desk for Men, located at the offices of the Bureau of Gender Affairs (BGA), has been helping men to be productive members of society.

It was established in April 2016 to assist men and boys in alleviating some of the major socio-economic challenges such as the crime and violence they experience.

The Desk serves as a central point in providing awareness on a range of issues, for example, parenting, health, education and the role of men in the elimination of violence against women, among others.

In addition, it focuses on policy, research and gender-sensitive training, developing leadership and promoting responsible male behaviours and attitudes.

Partnerships are also forged with men’s groups and other key stakeholders to raise awareness on specific issues faced by men and boys.

Speaking with JIS News, Research Officer at the Bureau of Gender Affairs, and Focal Point person for the Special Service Desk for Men, Nashan Miller, says that men are often seen as the perpetrators of violence.

“While there are statistics to confirm this viewpoint, there are a significant number of men and boys who are also victims, which tends to be greatly overlooked. Men and boys are also affected by gender-based violence, which not only includes physical abuse but emotional and psychological abuse, which is just as damaging,” Mr. Miller explains.

He notes that some of the views about antisocial behaviour and overt aggression in men and boys are linked to a culture of male-bashing and negative stereotyping.

He says that studies show that some males who demonstrate antisocial behaviour are the products of parental neglect, especially where fathers were absent.

“We want to break this cycle by reinforcing the positive and unleashing hope,” he points out.

Mr. Miller also shared that during a male group meeting, with influential men’s groups and individuals, it was pointed out that there are too many negative images depicting men as abusers and perpetrators of violence.

He says as a result, there was a call for more positive images depicting men as not just ‘ATM machines’ or ‘security’, but images of men having a positive effect on family and the wider society.

He cited the partnership with Men of God Against Violence and Abuse (MoGAVA), AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), and the Management Institute for National Development (MIND), where a new miniseries titled ‘Amazing Dads’ was produced to promote positive stories about fathers in Jamaica and mobilise men to be productive members of society, as an example of this.

He says the issue of paternity leave is another policy initiative that the BGA will spearhead to aid fathers to bond with their offspring at an early stage.

“I believe this would promote the image of men as not just providers but also caregivers,” Mr. Miller argues.

Meanwhile, some of the main achievements of the Special Service Desk for Men include observing International Men’s Day and Father’s Day, hosting of school sensitisation sessions, and community activities on domestic violence and other gender-related issues.

“We have gone into communities and several organisations to mainstream gender, particularly on issues related to both positive and negative masculinities, and we want to continue this momentum, as it will generate much-needed conversations and actions surrounding our men and boys,” Mr. Miller says.

He highlights that several organisations have been incorporating Men’s Day in their annual list of activities.

“While we have seen an increase in the number of programmes geared towards men, I think there’s still a significant amount of room for improvement. There needs to be a place where men are free to express their emotions without the fear of being labelled as ‘soft’ or where talking about their actions and negative behaviours is not seen as merely ‘finding excuses’, but viewed through the lens of critical emotional and psychology development of our men and boys,” Mr. Miller states.

Relaying an experience of a client, the Research Officer says that the young man expressed how pleased and relieved he was to be talking to a man about a male concern.

However, the Research Officer stressed that the Special Desk for Men cannot do it alone.

“It will need sustained partnerships and collaboration with different interest groups and stakeholders to assist men in addressing several of their concerns. This is why we also make referrals and form partnerships with men’s groups, such as Fathers Inc., founded by Dr. Herbert Gayle,” Mr. Miller points out.

“Social change does not take place overnight, but the indications are that we are moving in the right direction. We are committed to taking the work across the length and breadth of Jamaica,” he adds.

The Special Services Desk for Men can be reached via email nmiller@mcges.gov.jm or by calling (876) 754-8576-8. Persons may also visit the offices at 5-9 South Odeon Avenue, opposite the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre.

JIS Social