For the last one month, I have been engaged in a discussion on rape in an egroup belonging to the Kom Community –one of the principal ethnic groups in the northwest region of Cameroon. Though a great kingdom, it is embed in Patriarchy. The common belief is that women are to be seen and not to be heard and most harmful practices that debase women are simply labeled as tradition.
Amongst the several forms of violence against women that many in my community condone with, I will like to talk about rape and how men including women feel about it from the experience I lived in our egroup discussion.
It all started when a community member call Emma drew the attention of the rest of the community that she had been sexually harassed by another member Bobe T. Emma narrated her story about her bad she felt and how much she is still hurting three years (since 2013) after the incident took place. She ended by cautioning the rest of the women to be very cautious with Bobe T because he had sexually abused many other ladies who decided to stay quiet out of shame or fear. I don’t know if Emma’s allegation against Bobe T is true or false because there is need for investigations to prove the accused guilty.
What really troubled me about Emma’s story was the reaction of most of the men in the forum who think or believe that it is a woman’s fault to be raped. Out of 70 emails that were posted in relation to this rape allegation, (60) mails came from men who defended Bobe T. Given Emma’s claimed that the incident happened in Bobe T’s house, the men were quick to conclude she had come to Bobe T’s house to seduce him. The traditional questions that would only help to victimized the victim in the case of rape in my community were recurred. Famous amongst them were questions like ‘what was she doing in Bobe T’s house alone’ What was this girl/ woman doing in the home of a married man in the absence of his wife? Pretentiously seducing this guy?. Others came in with comments like ‘Come on lady, this man is just a man like any other man. This is no news like seriously. Guys will always try their luck .It doesn't mean we should make blablabla about it. Anyway, thanks for keeping the house warm with this.lol’
I was also very disappointed that only five women in this community joined in the discussion. Amongst the women who reacted, two cautioned Emma to let it go and to stop disgracing herself and the rest of the female folk in an egroup with thousands of readers. Two other women: myself and another sister reacted by stating clearly that there is ‘No Justification for Rape’. Rape is wrong and is punishable by law. We called on all the women to speak out against rape. The strongest weapon we have are our collective voices to ‘ name and shame rapist’.
It has been a few weeks that I contributed in this discussion. Little did I know that the information I was passing through could have an impact in someone’s life. Early this week, I received two clients in my office who have been victims of rape. Although they both had no intentions of taking up their cases to press for charges against their rapist, they needed someone who could listen to them without being judgmental. I am glad I provided an opportunity for these women to unburden themselves of pain and emotions that had linger for so long because they had no one to trust. I was able to reach out to them just with the words ‘There is no justification for Rape’ I am glad I did and it had an impact in these women’s lives.