In David’s earlier years, he admitted that he did not treat his partners as well as he should have. When he had his first girlfriend, he was actually confronted about this. His friend tried to tell him that his actions were not the proper way to treat a girl. His behavior stayed the same at first, but the first seed of change was planted in his mind.
David first started SASA! when he was a student in high school. In the beginning, the trainings used to be held in the Sharing Hall of the Youth Center. He was chosen because SASA! representatives wanted one male and one female representative to better relate to the community. David was their choice for a male activist.
David decided to join SASA! before he was ever married. The workshop began by teaching attendees how to change themselves. Facilitators said, “You cannot change others without first changing yourself.” This really resonated with David; how could someone expect anyone else to change if they did not believe in what they were preaching? It’s impossible. Another one of the first lessons that resonated with him was that all people are humans and deserve to be treated like humans. In his own words, SASA! helped teach him all the ways to be a better human.
Joining SASA! helped David in many ways. He gained respect because he was seen as a community leader and an activist. SASA! taught him how to interact with all different types of people. But most importantly to him, SASA! helped David have a happy and safe marriage.
One year ago, David married his wife, Gloria, and he proudly admits that being a member of SASA! gave him the tools to have a happy marriage. If he and Gloria have a disagreement, they always talk through it, and it never escalates. He helps with housework so she does not face the burden alone. When David and Gloria visit her sister, they are overwhelmed with the complaints from the wives whose husbands do nothing. David’s mother in law also listens to the complaints from the unhappy marriages in their family. As for David and Gloria? There have been no complaints. They appreciate each other at a new level.
David gets asked about his actions often. The men at his work ask, “Why are you buying food? Don’t you have a wife to do that?” David told me he used to just laugh, but now he takes these questions as teaching opportunities. He answers their question with another question “Did you ever peel food as a child? What is the difference now? Why can’t you help your wife now?” He has seen at least three of these men change. The first now irons clothes to help his wife. The second buys food. The third improved his relationship with his daughters by talking to them about topics that they used to be afraid to bring up. David was so happy that these people changed, even if in small ways. If each one of them can go change another person, too, maybe gradually we can all play a part in ending violence against women and girls.
At the end of our chat, David said to me, “Maybe if it weren’t for SASA!, I would let these chores slide. Maybe I would let the maid do them when she comes on Sundays or maybe I would let Gloria take care of them. But because I know about the inequality, I say no-- I am an activist. It changed me personally, and it saved my marriage. SASA! is why there have been no complaints in my marriage.”
*All names have been changed and communities have not been mentioned to protect the confidentiality of all who shared their stories.