I was having a discussion with some friends recently, and it occurred to me that a person can be educated and literate, but also gender illiterate at the same time. The discussion centered on women being victims of various forms of abuse from their husbands or men they had been living with, without being married.
The tendency in my community is for women to do traditional marriage rites and assume they are married under the law. They forget that only marriages registered in courts are recognized by Cameroon law.
The excuse given by many, both men and women alike, whether educated or uneducated, is that women need financial support which can only come from a man. These gender illiterate persons say that an educated but jobless woman needs the support of a man to survive and the surest way of getting this support is to live under his roof with or without a legal document to prove that they are married.
My response usually is that men also suffer the same unemployment as women. The high unemployment figures in Cameroon are for both men and women, yet jobless men do not rely on successful women for survival.
Those with a different view point say it is different for a man because a man could be jobless for half his adult life but he could grab a fantastic job at fifty and marry a girl of twenty. A woman could not marry again after thirty five so she’s desperate to secure a man at any cost.
In such a relationship the woman is at a disadvantage from day one. The man is usually aware of her desperate position and could manipulate her in many ways.
Give a woman financial stability and you solve half of the problem.