The implementation of lockdown measures by most government around the world to combat the spread of COVID-19 ushered in another virus in the form of violence against women. UN women reports that 243 million women and girls have been abused by their intimate partners in the past year. The figure is not only disturbing but re-echoes the question of; how long are we going to wait to see a world where there is no violence against women and girls.
Campaigns carried out every year to ensure the elimination of this evil plaguing the world seems not to reap any fruit, or if at all, very little. Countless number of intriguing activities launched to curb violence against women yet the more the pressure mounted for an end to this, the more heinous crimes perpetrated against the mothers of mankind. November 25 is one of the days set aside and marks the beginning of a sixteen-day activism to once more sensitize the public about the existence of gender based violence against women. International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is the beginning of a course to galvanize measures in which gender based violence can be curbed in the society.
In respect to this occasion, ERuDeF Center for the Advancement of Women’s Initiatives (CAWI) joins other organizations in the commencement of activism. While at the Campus of the University of Buea, CAWI had a talk with students drawn from various departments to discuss issues surrounding gender based violence and how to curb it. Under the leadership of its Women and Gender Intern Miss Jingwa Laura, issues like rape, killing, physical abuse (battering), inequality, psychological violence, emotional violence (silence treatment which may cause suicide), sexual harassment, child abuse are some of the key concerns in violence related matters.
While not disputing the fact that men are the perpetrators of violence, issues concerning how women tempt men to commit these crimes were also discussed Questions were raised as to how women dress, which attracts rapists to them, and how women “bad mouth” their husbands which attracts battering from their partners. However, the stigma of a raped girl suppresses every argument postulated, as it may affect the girl in a negative way. Other effects discussed were the health effects which include being infected with HIV or STDs in case of rape, as well mental problems due to trauma.
In a discourse motivated by the theme “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent and Collect….” There were some proposed solutions like men and women working together as men are mostly the perpetrators of this act. Arrey Verna a level 400 student in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication and a prolific poet was part of the discussion and had this to say… “Apparently I think this issue of gender based violence especially against women has become very rampant even in the university milieu. Things like emotional abuse and physical abuse comes into play. I know violence against women cannot be eliminated 100% because there are women who love being beaten up by their men but then there are ways we can curb the situation by redefining our goals”.
Eyong Etta Junior called on the men to “grow up” … “Yes.. men are the perpetrators of these crimes and I believe if they ‘grow up’they will not do something horrible because the strength of a man is not the same with that of a woman. When a man fights with a woman, I don’t think that is normal”.
The beginning of the sixteen days of activism against women is a stepping stone for the activities of the days ahead. Despite the campaigns, the number of rape and child abuse cases in Cameroon is still on a sporadic increase. A very popular case in September is that of Minette Fotsing, 17 who was gang raped to death. Another case in point is that of Marouja. She was ill treated by her husband. The 21-year-old made these declarations during a program at Equinoxe’s “Regarde Social”. Other cases of men beating their girlfriends to death and others killing with knives have also been on the rise. This worrisome behavior of some men has made us to think that these campaigns usually fall on deaf ears or we need to redouble our efforts.
According to the secretary General of the UN, “…The global community needs to hear the voices and experiences of women and girls and take into account their needs, especially survivors and those who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. We must also prioritize women’s leadership in finding solutions and engage men in the struggle…”
While hoping for a change, CAWI shall continue to fight for the rights of women and girls in Cameroon and beyound.