Cameroon, Safe for Women?
It’s been one week since I learnt of the butchering of a woman by her boyfriend in Bambili; a locality in the North West Region of the Cameroon.I am still waiting for the ministry of Women`s Empowerment to hold an emergency press conference to instruct police officers and the public in general to become more vigilant and immediately respond to cases of domestic violence. I can assure you that in one day, millions of women and young girls in this country are put to near death situations, with a bridle in their tongues by a culture of silence. I may be far away but the relics of a culture that reduces women to less than beasts has chased me like a ghost and is spanking me hard! I have no weapon but my voice, so I refuse to be silent. It is better to die while fighting than to die doing nothing.I have chosen to fight with my voice!
I am disappointed in the government of Cameroon.I have always noted with a heavy heart, its nonchalance towards the plight of women . Since the creation of the ministry of women`s empowerment and the family,I have never heard of a stringent public outcry against domestic violence, rape, maltreatment of widows, breast ironing,……..the list can continue till midnight. No press conference has ever been held to address these issues. Not even domestic violence that claims the life of at least one woman every day.
To my greatest dismay, this same ministry which is supposed to protect women, has initiated an avenue for women to be further tortured and disgraced publicly in the name of combating indecent dressing. In order words police officers and idle street boys have been authorized by the government to rough handle any woman that pisses them off on the streets or in private with the excuse of ‘’indecent dressing'.
With tears of immense sorrow,I can hardly fathom how in an era where we should be fighting to bring women out of obscurity into the limelight, a government can dedicate time and resources to permit the torture of women. No government of Cameroon,you can`t be doing this when we are supposed to be highly perturbed by the complexities surrounding efforts in plucking women out of the dragnets of degrading cultural practices. Not in the 21st century. Cameroon is not a Sharia nation and if we were to sincerely list the moral problems of Cameroon, point one will not be the dress code of women.I refuse to believe that if all women in Cameroon begin to veil their whole bodies including their nose and eyes, there will be miraculous strides in the development of the nation.
If I had heard that measures were being put in place to ensure proper prosecution of perpetrators of rape,if I learnt that the ministry of culture has called on the public and private media to stop broadcasting or publishing pictures that portray women as sex objects,I should have thought differently.If I had heard of several radio and television spots sponsored by the government, castigating rape and domestic violence,I will really be unrealistic to say this new move is nothing but war against women
I thought those at the helm of the ministry of Women Dis-empowerment……sorry Empowerment should have basic training in this work to understand that victim blaming never solves but aggravates violence against women.I thought by 2014 we should be revising our laws to meet international human rights standards.The laws in Cameron are still immensely biased towards women despite observations and recommendations made by the CEDAW Committee to country`s government in 2000 and 2009.There have been no legal reforms to increase protection of women’s human rights. Instead orders have been put in place to increase the heat of the flame against women. Furthermore, customary law is applied alongside statutory law, creating numerous contradictions and irregularities.
This dress code saga has raised a number of debates on Cameroonian forums both nationally and internationally and one thing I hear women saying is that there are far more pressing issues facing women in the country.I personally think the substance has been ignored and the shadow is being chased. May all of our voices serve as a wake up call to the government. Some of us might be gentle in our moves but remember the gentility of a tiger does not denote stupidity. We the women of Cameroon are calling on women all over the world to join their voices with ours to bring an end to this war that our government has waged against us.