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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.

Comments

Cali gal Michelle's picture

My dear Leina- Please, tell

My dear Leina-
Please, tell us what action step we can take to join in with these women's voices. Is there a petition to the government we can sign? Is there an action you could post so that we can join you in changing the government's oppressive laws? How can we help other girls and women be courageous and overcome the fear of speaking up?

I know your voice will never be silenced. It is strong and can move a mountain.

with love and

Let us Hope together-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

Leina's picture

Dear Michelle,thank you for

Dear Michelle,thank you for always being there to encourage and support us!We are currently strategizing on how to make this noise louder,once we setle on something we will make it public for support.A petition is definitely a way to go.Also encouraging the few women in Cameroon who have stood up against this will be wonderful.Will get to you for a further conversation dear Michelle.
Gratitude,
Leina

Kadidia's picture

Camroun and safety of women

Dear Leina,

Unfortunately, throughout Africa we acknowledge the same situation pertaining to women's rights. It seems to me that African governments are not understanding what human rights mean.

I believe that it is time to start fighting about any stereotypes degrading women in the society and to start a campaign to make sure that this murderer goes to jail. If you can succeed to win battle and have the media behind you, it will be a gigantic step towards women's rights.

Have Faith, we are here to support you.

Kadidia

Kadidia Doumbia

Leina's picture

Thank you dear Kadida for

Thank you dear Kadida for your support and encouragement.I see in you, a unique African woman!What an honor to share with you!We are definitely doing something about the situation.There is a lot of community organizing going on as we speak right now.The time for Africa to start honoring women has come.We will ensure that it happens in our generation by all means.The patriarchal system is determined not to run out of creative ways in dehumanizing us but we African women of today, especially here on World Pulse are made up of a different fiber.New to the world.We shall overcome!
Love and peace,
Leina

Magguy Kak's picture

Femmes, battons nous pour que

Femmes, battons nous pour que nos droits soient respectés!!!

Magguy Kak

Leina's picture

Merci ma seour c`est un

Merci ma seour c`est un veritable combat,un jour on va y arriver!
Bisou,
Leina

Dear Leina,

What you describe in Cameroon is the same in countries all around the world -- Yes even in USA, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Australia............ The list is non-ending. Unfortunately, due to antiquated norms and the fact that govts. consider domestic abuse (and the rampant failure of courts to apply & implement laws to protect victims, as well as violating the rights of victims in court proceedings) a 'private matter' & 'civil dispute', victims are left totally unprotected, defenseless and re-victimized.

In some ways the situation for victims in 'Western' countries is worse than Oriental, African & Latin American countries. In 'Western' countries laws are pass, multi-million dollar publicity campaigns are launch, millions of dollars in public funds are awarded to awareness-raising (in reality only propaganda) campaigns, but lawyers, judges and everyone else implicated keep on discriminating against victims in the courts -- with more and more victims being incarcerated, instead of the abuser. One Spanish woman has been in a New Jerey jail for the past 7 years, by a well-known judge abuser amongst local advocates, with the US & Spanish govt. playing 'rub-shoulder' politics at the expense of the life of a woman & her child.

What is needed in transparency & accountability of judicial actors (which means regulatory agencies - Bar Associations, Judicial Review Boards, etc. need to start getting TOUGH on negligent judical actors), District Attorneys getting TOUGH on judicial actors who violate women's rights, and women's rights orgs & lawyers need to start establishing jurispudence and a political campaign promoting and defending women's rights within the home, family & marriage.

CAPACITY BUILDING THAT TURNS RHETORIC TO REALITY!

Quenby Wilcox
Founder - Global Expats
quenby@global-xpats.com
www.global-xpats.com

Leina's picture

Thanks for joining your voice

Thanks for joining your voice Quenby,violence against women is indeed a complicated web.I pray the world wakes up to the reality that peace in nations begins in bedrooms then to living rooms, neighborhoods,villages,towns regions,nations,continents and then the world!If we neglect the origin of a virus we can never wipe out an epidermic.It`s indeed complicated.
We shall overcome!
Best,
Leina

Eliane L's picture

Dear Leina, Thank you for

Dear Leina,
Thank you for your strong voice and your passionate commitment to changing the situation of Cameroonian women. You are correct to highlight the dress code issue, which to many may seem like a minor issue, but is actually the policing of women's bodies and women's morals for no other reason than to ensure they are not given the same privileges of freedom and full public participation as men are. Please continue speaking out, we need women like you to change this situation for women in Cameroon, elsewhere in Africa and the world.
Nous sommes ensemble!
Eliane

Eliane L
Burundi

Leina's picture

Thank you lovely Elaine,it is

Thank you lovely Elaine,it is really a huge issue because the very ministry that is suppose to protect and empower women has exposed them to harassment.I take high offence in this and do not want to see it as something trivial.I know change is soon to arrive!
Blessings,
Leina

Susan K.A.'s picture

I support you, Leina!

And I stand with all the women of Cameroon!

I will continue to look to World Pulse to see where I may be of help. Thank you for keeping us apprised of the situation in Cameroon. My prayers are with those who are suffering from abuse, discrimination, and injustice. As you say, we shall overcome!

With love,
Susan

______________________________________________________________________________

"I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being."
-Hafiz

Greengirl's picture

Dear Leina

I very much understand how you feel about the non nonchalant attitude of the Ministry charged with the responsibility of promoting and protecting women's interests in Cameroon. But to tell you the truth, I am not in the least surprised. The story is no different in my country across the different Ministries. One thing I have come to note is that these Ministries are managed by individuals who only see their jobs as a means to an end. All they care about are their salaries and the bribes that they collect. What do you expect of someone who studied marketing but got employed as an Environmental Officer in the Ministry of Education. Talk of square pegs in round or maybe triangular holes. I can bet that majority of the workers have no inkling about the Mandate and functions of their Ministries.

I am glad that you have chosen not to keep silent; It is the only way the rot in our governance systems can be checked and eventually reversed.

God bless you for all you do for women in Cameroon, and globally.

Greengirl

Greengirl's picture

Dear Leina

I very much understand how you feel about the non nonchalant attitude of the Ministry charged with the responsibility of promoting and protecting women's interests in Cameroon. But to tell you the truth, I am not in the least surprised. The story is no different in my country across the different Ministries. One thing I have come to note is that these Ministries are managed by individuals who only see their jobs as a means to an end. All they care about are their salaries and the bribes that they collect. What do you expect of someone who studied marketing but got employed as an Environmental Officer in the Ministry of Education. Talk of square pegs in round or maybe triangular holes. I can bet that majority of the workers have no inkling about the Mandate and functions of their Ministries.

I am glad that you have chosen not to keep silent; It is the only way the rot in our governance systems can be checked and eventually reversed.

God bless you for all you do for women in Cameroon, and globally.

Greengirl

Vision40's picture

Tigers roar

Hello Leina,,thank you for your insightful article. I particularly like your reference to the gentle tiger as it gives me hope that we can all make a difference and not to give up if we are faced with struggles to overcome. Thank you for reigniting my spirit this evening and I wish you and Cameroon the brightest of futures. May we continue to pull all our resources together to understand and share solutions.

First you need to believe you can
Take care
Nicola

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