Cameroon has witnessed a shocking surge in sexual violence and rape within the past months. A week rarely goes by without a case or two being reported across the country.
In most cases, young children under the age of ten are victims. Parents are left to fight the ill on their own – they sometimes take justice into their hands.
Gender promoters are speaking up against the phenomenon, but are their voices loud enough?
A few days ago, a 17-year-old girl died after being gang-raped in Cameroon’s Economic capital, Douala. The incident prompted widespread outrage, but what next?
Cameroon’s Penal Code punishes any person or persons who by physical or moral violence forces a woman, including an adolescent to have sexual intercourse with him. The punishment is imprisonment for five or ten years.
But no policies are in place to ensure that these laws are carefully applied in case of any breach. There is also no mechanism in place to ensure that victims and their families receive the support they desperately need. Which is why I am prompted to conclude that the authorities have failed to protect young girls and children.
The Role of MINPROFF
The Ministry of Women Empowerment and the Family’s primary goal is to ensure gender equality, empowerment and the protection of women. But that is yet to be seen in practice, as it appears to go mute even in the face of the most heinous attacks on women and children. It is rather shocking that at a time when Cameroon is facing more and more alarming cases of sexual violence and rape, the ministry has opted for silence.
The Ministry’s budget, which represents one of the lowest of all the country’s ministerial establishment might be a stumbling block in its quest to fight for the welfare of women and children.
“We are willing and can do more to fight for women, but I must admit our budget will not permit us…we already have a lot on our plate,” a MINPROFF Delegate told me a few years ago off the record.
But if there is no money, can one conclude that there is also a lack of will? That answer to this is a categorical YES!
Considering the glaring evidence that the government of Cameoron and its institutions are neither willing nor capable of protection young children and girls from sexual predators, the battle now lies with us. It is time to shun the blame-game and do all we can to stop this growing menace. As South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa was tackling rape crisis in the rainbow nation over a year ago, he urged men to join women in the fight.
The video below was captured in Yaounde. It shows a man being beaten by an angry mob for attempting to rape a three-year-old girl which could be your daughter, your kid sister or even your neighbour’s child.
Let us all join the clarion call to ask the government take action now. At the same time, let all of us as a community that cares for its own, rise up and say NO TO RAPE!
The time for action is now, as this is a ticking time bomb.
By Mimi Mefo