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RAPE IS A CRIME, RAPISTS MUST NOT GO UNPUNISHED

Rape is one of the major threats and sign of violence against women in this 21st Century. It affects all age groups. The predators vary from parents raping their own children, brothers raping their sisters, family friends and passers-by. The rate at which rape nowadays is growing around us is something nasty. Do you know what hurts me the most? It is that the predators go unpunished while the victims remain physically wounded, psychologically crippled and emotionally broken for the rest of their lives. Then, from this day onwards, she lives another life. From this day, some re orientate their objectives and move from one failure to another.
In 2004, my 12 years old cousin went to live at our Uncle’s house. Among the many children In the house, she was the only girl. She had to do all the house chores and cook food for the family. Our uncle’s wife owned a shelf at the market and stayed out all day. On week ends, she had to travel to the bush market to buy. One night, we were informed the child had escaped from the house. They called her all sorts of names and our uncle even told us that he’d noticed developments in the child’s libido. The child according to him left the house because he tried to stop her from visiting men in their room. This was shocking news for the family very much attached to certain values. Given that after the child’s parents died, the only person ready to keep her was this uncle. He was therefore considered in the family as a very good person, and respected by all.
A week later, the child was found and I took upon myself to talk to her and listen to her. Then she told me she has been doing all the work in the house all alone, such that she has not been able to be in school on time. She told me she left the house because her teacher in school beat her up for late coming. I saw tears run down her cheek and I felt she was not telling me the truth. I promised to take her along with me if she told me every truth and she did so. My 54 years old uncle had been raping her all the time when his wife was not at home. This day, she told me, our Uncle “… did it in the morning and wanted to do it again in the afternoon meanwhile the place was still hot...” and she refused. He wanted to beat her up when she escaped from the house. She swore to me his wife was aware but did not take her serious. She simply told her husband she was unhappy with that and in order not to spoil her name in the family, she stayed quiet.
From this story, I decided to tell my grand mother and that is when I discovered all the family was aware of it. I asked my aunt to go to the police for that but she told me family problems are not solved by the police. The person who will make any noise out of it will be considered a bad child who wants to separate the family. My family was bent on that this was a family matter which should be treated secretly not to tarnish the image of the family. No one else believed this was a crime, and that is how this little girls’ life was spoiled. At 15 she was pregnant and gave birth to a boy. The family accused her of being a disgrace to the family and the community. When the child reached seven, I never saw her again. I heard she was married. Actually nothing could help her situation.
In our community today, rape is an everyday issue and the rapists go unpunished. Look at the policeman blaming a girl’s short skirts for being the reason for her rape. Or look at a father accusing the girl who comes back late from evening classes for keeping out late nights. No one has ever raped a boy whose jeans fall on the buttocks without or with a pant. Girls raped are accused of being bad children with poor moralities and alienated from the family.
For months now in my country, the issue of rape is heard everywhere. Rapes made from school children to housewives. Another issue that has hit the community lately is the dead of two sisters (aged 5 and 8 years) by drowning in a pool. The dead were not an easy one for the family of the children to take. The children had drowned in their aunt’s neighbor pool. The dead was a shocking one. Everyone lamented on such an occurrence. Just for the result of the autopsy to portray that the children had been sodomised for a long time before dead occurred. This idea was what shattered the family especially the father of the children. This case was the one that was reported. What about hundreds of other children who are victim to such acts and no one ever notices. No one ever gives them the opportunity to live their innocence.
The impacts of rape are numerous and disastrous for every victim. One issue of concern has is what happens immediately before the rape. Victims often experience pre terror frightening realization of what is about to happen to them but knowing quite well they are powerless to stop it. As a result, many victims impose upon themselves an unreasonable standard of conduct based upon guilt-ridden speculation about how they should or should not have responded to the attack. Serious distress is common immediately after the assault. These may include shock, disbelief, confusion, anxiety, crying, irritation, and other signs of emotional disorganization. The victim also may experience a variety of other feelings in the weeks following the rape: fear, anger, embarrassment, and self-blame. Abrupt changes in mood are common. To compound her distress, the victim may feel she is overreacting to normal everyday problems and then become angry with herself. At the end, some victims will either contemplate suicide or commit suicide.
Today, the situation is changing as how rapes are being handled but much still needs to be done. Girls have to be encouraged to denounce rapists and rapists are supposed to be punished. For this to be effective, victims need to be educated on that it is not their fault they were raped. They need to be taught that, they could be moving in the street as every other person and that the person who assaulted them is a criminal and is treated so both by the law and their community. They also need to be aware that, the shame is not theirs but that standing up to speak against rape is a bold and courageous step which is encouraged.
Moreover, families and communities should be educated to look at rape as a crime. Families need to learn that rape is a crime and the rapist should not be protected. Women who fail to denounce rapists should also know they are neither protecting themselves, nor their families. They should know that they are putting the integrity of their children as well as those of little girls of their environment in danger. Educating the grass root communities is the best way to combat violence against women.

Blandine MESSA

This story was written for World Pulse’s Ending Violence Against Women Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring an end to gender-based violence. The EVAW Campaign elicits powerful content from women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as vocal grassroots leaders, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Nakinti's picture

Thank you Blandine.

Dear Blandine,
Thank you so much for sharing this very touching story.
I can feel the pain of that little girl who was raped repeatedly.
We really need to break the silence, and denounce the rapists.
A good percentage of the rapists are relatives and close friends/family friends.
Lets continue to be the voice of the voiceless so that we can advocate for change ASAP.
Continue to remain the strength of women.
Thanks very much for sharing this.
Lots of Love

Nakinti B. Nofuru
2013 VOF Correspondent
Reporter for Global Press Institute
Bamenda - Cameroon
Email: nakinti@globalpressinstitute.org
nakintin@yahoo.com

MESSA's picture

Thanks to you as well. sure

Thanks to you as well.

sure rapists must be denounced.

whoever they could be.

Ghnadi un jour a dit, tout finira bien par s'arranger, et si tout ne s'arrange pas, ce que ce n'est pas encore la fin. Femme, garde espoir!!!!

Ghandi once said it will all get well at the end, and if it doesn't get well, then it is not yet the end.
Wo

lydiagcallano's picture

Rape is a crime!

Thank you for sharing the gender realities particularly about the sexism and sexual abuses in Cameroon, Blandine. It is makes me realize that there are bitter and gruesome stories behind the happy and attractive information about your country shown in beauty pageants and tourism channels.

As to your point that rape is a crime, IT IS! Rape is a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY. All human beings have the basic right to live, to be happy, to choose who to be with, to refuse, and so on. When someone forces his/her own desire against the will of another, is a violation of human rights. Therefore, rape victims must not feel guilty; it should be the other way around!

Ma. Lydia G. Callano
Iloilo, Philippines
+63 33 3158137 or 5138830

MESSA's picture

Hello MA LydiaSure, that is

Hello MA Lydia

The idea of rape used to be an unheard phenomenon, but recently, what is really happening is outrageous.
Sure, that is the other side of the coin

For rapists not to feel ashame, they need to be educated that the fault is not theirs as it is always the case.

Ghnadi un jour a dit, tout finira bien par s'arranger, et si tout ne s'arrange pas, ce que ce n'est pas encore la fin. Femme, garde espoir!!!!

Ghandi once said it will all get well at the end, and if it doesn't get well, then it is not yet the end.
Wo

Blandine, thank you for sharing what is going on in your country,
I've worked with victims of violence here in the United States and often wonder where we should focus our energy as women's rights activists in order to change the pervasiveness of violence in our society.. I think we need more strict laws punishing perpetrators of violence but above all, we need a culture that is no longer SILENT about the violence against women and children that is so common inside homes and communities. That is why you sharing your cousin's story is so important and this Global Pulse campaign on ending VAW is so central to the fight for gender equality globally.
Many thanks and please continue to speak out against the injustices you see around you.
In solidarity,
Shelley

MESSA's picture

You're right and thanks for

You're right and thanks for the added contribution

Ghnadi un jour a dit, tout finira bien par s'arranger, et si tout ne s'arrange pas, ce que ce n'est pas encore la fin. Femme, garde espoir!!!!

Ghandi once said it will all get well at the end, and if it doesn't get well, then it is not yet the end.
Wo

Nita's picture

ITS NOT ONLY RAPE BUT INCEST!

Hi Blandine,
I guess my contribution is not coming in late. I recently joined this network.

Thanks very much for our contribution which has really kept me wondering.

I am a Cameroonian living in Douala.

I think public rape is what is still trying to gain roots in our country and all efforts are being made both at the individual and corporate level to stamp this out. Private rape is what happens within the family circles amongst people who have a relationship that does not permit any sexual act to go on between them. It is for this reason it always goes on unnoticed because third parties or passerby usually don't suspect an evil but whenever it is brought to public notice, it is never condoned. This is what I know for all these years.

This case you have reported is different and strange. It is unheard of, that, your uncle wife should know that the husband has an affair with another lady irrespective of whom she is, and the wife remains indifferent. Let alone allowing the husband to be sleeping with his niece. No! There is something missing in this story . Please redo the findings, get the facts again and please let me know.

To crown it all, you say your grand mother was aware and many other people in family were aware and nobody lifted up a finger. No! Its not possible because you will agree with me that in the Cameroonian context, if a man should sleep with a close relative of his, its an abomination that may eventually bring a curse upon the entire family. This is an act of incest sanctioned by the native laws and customs of each traditional community in Cameroon. Even when both parties consent - meaning that its not a case of rape, the native laws come into play so that no curse befalls their community.

I have heard of cases of young people who met in the diaspora, decided to get married (having a blood relationship unknown to them), when they come back home for the traditional part of the solemnization, family members who know the blood relationship linking up the couple always oppose and put an end to the relationship. If the to-be couple have had a child or had an intimate relationship, they are asked to apologise on grounds of ignorance, they are fined to give a token as atonement for their act and thereafter counseled and prayed for. They are officially separated and declared not guilty of a crime. This is followed by a common meal.

So in this case you have mentioned, i am surprised how things have been handled. If it were that nobody in the entire family knew, it would have been understood. That they know and did not react on the same day and on the spot where they got the information, calls for questioning.

The Bible is against rape and incest,
The North West culture is against rape and incest
The Cameroonian law is against rape and incest.
The Criminal law, provides 10-15yrs imprisonment, if the raped relative is below 15yrs and our cousin was just 12. (Please check CRIMINAL LAW IN CAMEROON.SPECIFIC OFFENCES by Carlson Anyangwe )

The international community condemns rape in its entirety. Rape is one of the vices considered in gender violence.

So if your cousin had a baby for her uncle, what was going to be the way forward?
I will like to reserve my comments on this. I think it was an abnormal situation maybe having some spiritual connotations.

That the case should not be reported to the police, was well thought of if the wanted to protect their family according to them. But that the grand mother did not withdraw her grand daugther from the mouth of the lion is what I still need to decode and decipher.

Under legal circumstances, that uncle and family will be sued for
1. Child Abuse
2. Rape
3. Incest
4. Non assistance to someone in danger
5. Rape Accomplices

These are things that we should not allow to be happening amongst us. Look at the life of the little girl now.

Let us keep praying for her

Together we shall stand.

NITA

MESSA's picture

You're right it's incest as well

Good morning Nita,

Once more thank you for your contribution. I can understand how thrilled and how shocked you are after reading this article but be rest assured it is true. Such things happen in our community and many people are helpless before the situation and turn it into family secrets, that is why I emphasize on that rapists must be denounced. The Cameroonian law, customary law and etc condemn rape and incest, but what happens if the act is not denounced? What happens when no one believes the victims? what is it that happens when the victim is helpless and has no idea the law can be of help? What happens when these children are school drop outs who were not opportuned to be educated on their rights? What happens when they live in a small and hidden traditionalist society backed by patriarchal laws based on family pride?

This story actually took place in a village in West Cameroon known as Bapie and I can still recall so much of it though I was a child. The cousin did not get pregnant from the Uncle, she got pregnant from someone else a little later on but I believe such a life of hers came up as a result of the consequences of the rape. Aunts and uncles being aware did not take it serious and some instead of looking into the matter and coming to the child's aid, instead protected family ‘pride’ and everyone accused her of wanting to separate the family. There was according to me no spiritual inclination in this story. we grew with some children in the family knowing they were our grand father's children meanwhile they had our ages, its later on that we learnt that such children were born from such practices and such were kept as family secrets.

Have you asked yourself why recently in Cameroon campaigns against rape is growing and many NGOs are coming to life to fight rape and see into that rapists are punished? Have you noticed that recently much is being done on the subject and a re education about rape in particular is being done? Will you watch national tv CRTV for a full day without getting something against rape or would you watch youth programs on both public and private channels without hearing condemnations on rape? Watch Delire, Watch Jeunesse parlons- en, visit newly created NGOs on rape in Cameron; the ministry of social and family affairs, etc. What gave me the courage to share this story came up as a result of the fact that the topic on rape has stopped from being a taboo and is now handled publicly.

All these reforms put in place to back the constitution inorder to fight rape is not a mistake or a coincidence. it is actually in respose to this phenomenon which has been going on underground for a long time. Such issues are so rampant our community.Recently a 21 years old girl approached Equinoxe to make such vows. She had been raped by her father since she was 15 and it is only this year she was able to speak out because she was opportuned to reach Douala.Waht is it that happens to those others who have never left their villages?. Take some time; go to NGOs like S.O.S FEMMES, there you will understand what I am talking about. It is strange you are not aware such things are happening. I wish I were in your shoes because being aware of such things actually hurt.

Thanks for your contribution and questions. Any further comments or questions are welcome. Try and visit some of the above mentioned sites and you'll be surprised to learn the things that are happening around you, in Douala as well.

Best regards
MESSA

Ghnadi un jour a dit, tout finira bien par s'arranger, et si tout ne s'arrange pas, ce que ce n'est pas encore la fin. Femme, garde espoir!!!!

Ghandi once said it will all get well at the end, and if it doesn't get well, then it is not yet the end.
Wo

Nita's picture

no one is above the law

Bla,
thanks for the prompt reaction.

I am not stating that am not aware of these happenings not only in Cameroon but around the world. When it becomes rampant and unchecked, then we should give it a second thought.

Please go back to the first lines of my contribution, please take more time and re-read my contribution. I said rape is gaining ground in Cameroon and efforts are put in, to stop it. The efforts am talking about are the NGOs and the others you have mentioned. So kindly re- read the contribution.

The case you mentioned is particular because everybody was aware and nobody bothered to put an end to it. Putting an end does not necessarily mean reporting to the police but just withdrawing the little girl from that house was going to solve many things.

This community you write about is different but we will eventually get there.
May be within that community incest is legalised and rape looked upon as normal.

I still want to reserve my comments.

I believe in preventive measures first then the repressive measures against rape.

you may give me more facts when we meet.

Justice must prevail.

NITA

lydiagcallano's picture

The Extreme Punishment

Rape for me is repulsive and the thought of it elevates my blood pressure. Rape gives momentary satisfaction to one person but it leaves a lifetime trauma to the victim. The negative effects may actually go down in the family's history of both the victim and the rapist. In this sense, no one gains in rape.

While I hate rape, my blood curdles when I hear cases of incest. I may be able to comprehend why rape happens but I can't fathom why a person would have sexual contact with a family member. My mind gets more boggled as the relationship between the couple gets closer and closer, that is, uncle and niece,grandfather and grand child father and daughter, or brother and sister. It is pure insanity! Only deranged people will engage in incest!

The sad thing about incest is that is goes unpunished because it is often a taboo and so the family keeps it secret. This is true in my country, the Philippines.

Since rape (and incest) are major crimes, I believe they should be dealt with corporal punishment. Imprisonment for "x" number of years is the usual punishment for rape in many countries. Death penalty can also happen but not in the Philippines because it was stopped in 1990. Anyways, I agree with imprisonment but for me, the heavier penalty would be castration, and much better if it would be penile removal. Pardon me if my suggestion is controversial or radical. I am just being honest.

Ma. Lydia G. Callano
Iloilo, Philippines
+63 33 3158137 or 5138830

MESSA's picture

wow, really radical!!

It's true its an act which needs the toughest repression and i can feel how angry you are about it.

what will the world look like if violence is used to repress violence?

at one point i feel there will be no space for anybody.

you see, such people who commit such crimes are usually unaware of its implication. i think they should not only be incarcerated but they should be educated such that they learn how to see the woman as their equal. they should put aside all patriarchal believes and re define their relationship with the woman. Most of such actions are done by cowards and those who have failed and are looking to find a place and gain power. That is, down grading the young girl and the woman.

MESSA

Ghnadi un jour a dit, tout finira bien par s'arranger, et si tout ne s'arrange pas, ce que ce n'est pas encore la fin. Femme, garde espoir!!!!

Ghandi once said it will all get well at the end, and if it doesn't get well, then it is not yet the end.
Wo

lydiagcallano's picture

Right, you are!

Messa, my Friend, I cannot agree with you any less that EDUCATION should be part of the transformation of criminals. Even if castrated, rapists can still harm women in other ways. Yes, they should understand why women must be respected and protected.

This process of renewing of criminal minds and hearts can take years but it should be done somehow. However, the process starts with the target learners. Change agents like us have always been willing to teach but are those criminals willing to listen? That is the question that only they could answer.

Ma. Lydia G. Callano
Iloilo, Philippines
+63 33 3158137 or 5138830

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