A MAJOR new campaign encouraging young men to reflect on their own behaviour when it comes to violence against women, domestic abuse and toxic masculinity has been launched at a Newport boxing gym.

The ‘Sound’ campaign will target men aged 18-34 with engaging and informative content around healthy relationships across social media, podcasts, TV and streaming channels to counteract a narrative shared by some social media influencers promoting ‘ultra-masculine’ views.

The initiative was launched at St Joseph's Boxing Gym in Newport on Thursday.

Welsh Government's Sound initiative

Not only will the campaign address misogynistic beliefs and tackle stereotypes but it will also encourage young men to learn about gender-based violence in three distinct ways:

  • Sound It Out: Have conversations with your male peers, sound out problematic behaviours and personal concerns;
  • Sound Advice: Get trusted insights on what a healthy relationship looks and feels like, ask for support;
  • Be Sound As: Encourage your friends to open up, support them, challenge them, be a role model and emulate the figures you consider ‘sound as.

Sound comes as new Welsh Government research shows 64 per cent of Welsh men underestimate how many women are subject to abuse.

In addition, 39 per cent of men interviewed said efforts to achieve women’s equality had led to discrimination against men – reflecting a worrying shift in attitudes perpetuated by the rise of high-influence misogynists in the public domain.

The polarisation in attitudes and beliefs was most acute amongst young men aged 18 to 24.

The clear divide between those who consider traditional masculinity to be under threat and those who identify as feminists highlights the urgent need to facilitate reasoned non-judgemental conversation amongst this demographic.

Developed with men from a variety of backgrounds across Wales, the campaign has been informed by perpetrators and survivors of abuse, ensuring all content is appropriate to those with direct experience of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence - also referred to VAWDASV.

St Joseph’s Amateur boxing gym in Newport have also taken part in the launch.

One member, Farrell Rafferty, from Pill, said: “I would never talk about my day-to-day problems with my partner, because in my eyes, I need to be seen as the carer in the relationship.

"This project has shown me that maybe my opinion isn’t always the way forward, or the only one. It’s all about listening to other people, taking it what they say.”

The Argus also spoke to St Joseph's trainer Zhivago Greaux and two other members - Patrick Bilongo and Louis Walters.

South Wales Argus: Patrick Bilongo. Picture: Tom FarmerPatrick Bilongo. Picture: Tom Farmer (Image: Tom Farmer)

All three said the club had been a welcoming safe space for them to talk about things in their personal lives - sometimes completely unrelated from the world of sport.

"For the young guys to speak about this is positive," Mr Greaux said.

"We're positive and open with them here."

Mr Bilongo explained how the welcoming atmosphere at the club was like " a family environment which extends outside the gym".

South Wales Argus: Zhivago Greaux. Picture: Tom FarmerZhivago Greaux. Picture: Tom Farmer (Image: Tom Farmer)

"Lots of things are changing," Mr Greaux said.

"We need to challenge traditional thinking (regarding women in boxing and other traditionally male-dominated spaces).

"Lots more women are getting into boxing and this is positive for the city."

South Wales Argus: Louis Walters. Picture: Tom FarmerLouis Walters. Picture: Tom Farmer (Image: Tom Farmer)

Minister for social justice Jane Hutt said: “Early intervention and prevention are vital to our plans. We must educate young men and boys about healthy relationships and ensure that we’re putting the responsibility on them to stop violence against women and girls.

“Sound’ is there to initiate self-reflection by drawing attention to harmful behaviours such as lovebombing, gaslighting and coercive control – helping men to recognise these behaviours in themselves and others, to get trusted, sound advice on how to address them.”