Posted December 12, 2012 from Cameroon

Cameroon is not a pace setter in the fight against gender violence, but in my opinion she is a good follower, cooperating with the international community to see that gender violence and inequality are eradicated. I must confess that I being a woman in Cameroon have observed that there is a lot of action initiated by the government to empower the women, eliminate gender violence at all levels and promote gender equality. With all these put in place, gender violence especially at the domestic level is still sky rocketing. A closer look at this controversy makes me to believe that the state has a part to play and the individuals too have their part to play in order to attain the defined goals. In the case studies am going to present in this article though there of some years back, I will want to think that part of the women’s problem are the victims themselves when they fail to cooperate with the law probably out of ignorance, or due to pressure from some cultures or maybe people’s personal views. In case number one; Terra was a brilliant girl, averagely educated by her family. Upon completion from college the state recruited her as a civil servant. She got married to another educated man – Jones who was also working for the government. The government gave Jones a one year scholarship to do a refresher course abroad. Before leaving, he left some money with his wife Terra to take care of the home especially their lone baby Samuel. Terra mindful of her background decided to use the money very judiciously so that she could help educate her siblings. One year elapsed and Jones came back and discovered that Terra had about two thousand dollars inside her bank account. Since he gave less than this amount to Terra he presumed that she had economized what he left behind and added her savings to it to have this amount in her bank account. He ordered that the money be transferred to his own account because Terra is a woman and should not own that amount of money. Terra told him “while you were away, I deprived myself of many facilities just because I needed to help my parents with a bit of money so I cannot transfer the money into your account’’. The man insisted, the woman stood her grounds and tension started mounting in their home.

One day during this period of tension, Terra bought some household chemicals to use in the house as usual in bleaching clothes and other things. Due to the pending grudge emanating from the money transfer issue, the husband called the police that the wife wanted to attempt suicide. The police came to their home and Terra was very surprised that the husband could tell such a lie against her. She proved to the police that there was no iota of suicide on her mind especially as her family relied so much on her. The police believed her and investigations against her were closed. After the visit of the police, Jones wanted to have sex with Terra that same night, she refused telling the husband that, there was something on his mind that provoked him to lie against her and until that hidden thing is brought to light and resolved, she was ready for any intimacy. She said the husband needed to explain to her what the matter was, so that they sort it out first before resuming their sexual life. Jones attempted marital rape but Terra stood her grounds and hid herself under their bed. In anger, Jones gave her many kicks while she was still under the bed and got some of her ribs broken. She screamed but to no avail. Jones later went to bed in frustration and Terra struggled and came out from the hiding but with broken ribs and told him to take her the hospital. Seeing that the case was so serious, he took her to the hospital. The x-ray showed that she sustained broken ribs and there was serious internal bleeding. Jones was immediately arrested by the police, he was judged in court and was convicted - to prison.

Terra’s family, friends and well wishers who heard the story, came to her financial aid. She underwent a few complicated surgical operations and the doctor warned her to be careful with her health because she could not withstand further surgical operations. When she left the hospital, she moved to a new house. Jones while still in prison was very troubled by this unintentional situation and left from the prison one day to come visit her. When he reached Terra’s house, he knelt down begging for forgiveness. Terra chased him away.

Sometimes later, she developed complications around the operated area and her doctor told her that she needed an urgent surgical operation which may end up sending her to the mortuary. He prescribed drugs and warned that she should never accept to go to the theater no matter how bad the situation was. One day, while on a long journey, the wounds gave way and she was bleeding profusely. She was rushed to the theater and thereafter to the mortuary as her doctor had foresaid. Her child Samuel was now staying with family members as Jones’ where about is not known.

In the second case, I hear Judith is married to Walters who is the bread winner of their family. Whenever Walters is angry with her, he will give her snake beatings. She struggled with this domestic violence for years. When they had their third child, Judith was carrying the six months old baby on her lap when trouble starting looming in the air. The argument quickly turned into the usual beating. In anger, the husband wanted to hit Judith. In an attempt to dodge from the blow, she unconsciously swayed to the left while exposing her baby’s head towards the husband. The blow landed on the child’s head. The child gave a shrieking cry then went off, Walters was screaming that he has killed his own baby. They both rushed the child to the hospital, and both agreed to hide the truth. At the hospital he was the spokesperson and told many lies so that the doctors could attend to the child. The child’s life was rescued but he remained with a mental abnormality and the parents are always in and out of hospitals with him. So when this abnormal child was 3 years old, Judith gave birth to another child. One day she brought the two kids to the hospital for the routine checkup of the abnormal child- a Mongol. My colleague bombed into her and she then narrated this story I have narrated above. My colleague asked her how she found herself sleeping with a man who almost killed her baby and why she decided to have another baby for him? My colleague asked her why she should hide that kind of case even from her family and the state? Judith explained that she sat down and thought that if she ever reported the case to the police, the husband will be sent to jail and that she did not want it that way since she needed the man’s moral and financial support. That sending him to jail will mean that she has to bear the trauma alone, maybe foot all hospital bills and take care of the other children single handedly. That though it was so traumatizing, she had to forgive him move on with life. She forgave him and the man is very remorseful and supportive at home. He provides everything the family needs and foots all the medical bills for this abnormal child and vehemently stands against domestic violence.

I, Nita writing this article had longed to meet Judith in person so as to ask her a few questions, but it was not possible because my colleague who encountered her did not take her contact.

Though the two cases above happened more than ten years ago, dear friends, If Judith had reported the case to the police as Terra did, justice would have taken its turn because the government is for women empower and condemns violence especially domestic violence in its entirety. She did not report the case, can we say the law is silent about domestic violence against women by men? Has Judith behaved wisely? Was it better for her to report her own situation so that her husband goes to jail for his wicked behavior or she did well by opting for the man’s support in a delicate situation? Is she helping breed ground for domestic violence or she is against it? Please let me have your opinion. My next entry should be a proposal or solution pack on gender violence.

Comments 3

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  • Amabo Divine
    Jan 07, 2014
    Jan 07, 2014

    Hi Nita, it is quite interesting to note that there are other Cameroonians who hold the passion of adding value to the world. At some point, I wondered if Cameroon's irresponsibility to change in relation to gender based violence is deliberate or as a result of ignorance. Over time, I took a survey to monitor what trends this deafness took in society and I can testify that the level of responsibility of the state toward such issues after the 10 years you mentioned then, is still on a stand still, that is if not on the decrease already.

    I highly encourage you to put in more effort in the work you are doing, having in mind that change begins with you, then over to the other people around. One of the things I picked out on your stories are evident in our communities very much.

    Terra did good by going for justice, though she finally passed away. Judith, faced with economic challenges did well on her part by forgiving her husband, which made him a better person, but I would also like to stress that there is an angle you might not have mentioned on had anything to do with yet. Some women might run to justice out of anger, which others might stay quiet out of fear. It is true, but let's look at the phase where men are highly educated and sensitized against women battering, by changing a man's desire to inflict pain and suffering on their spouse, they gently become role models to other men, which makes it quicker for the situation to be better addressed. I do not decipher with you on this note, but I urge you to take a study on whether there are programs back home that work to empower men to stand against gender based violence.

    Wishing you the very best, and thanking you for the piece of information and specimen you provided here above. It was very inspiring and useful. I look forward to even more.

  • Adahmbah
    Jan 15, 2014
    Jan 15, 2014

    My dear I’m carried about by your great inspiration but please I will ask you to check out some of the window dressing actions initiated by the government to empower the women, eliminate gender violence at all levels and promote gender equality. Firstly the victims don’t have any protection code and nothing is done to perpetuators without physical evidences. I have gone through that path and i can tell you my sister much still has to be done in Cameroon. May be i will strongly agree with Amabo Divine who says we need more programs for men which work to empower them to stand against gender based violence in communities in Cameroon. Thanks Adah

  • Nita
    Jan 19, 2014
    Jan 19, 2014

    Thanks very much for taking time to go through this lengthy article.

    I understand that there are still lopholes in this domain and more..

    Gradually, with God's help, we will get to the level of perfection. A journey of 10000 miles, starts with a step

    At times it is also good to encourage the policy-makers when they carry out positive reforms.

    This may spur them to do more

    It is not easy, believe me.

    I pray our comments and heart cry with reach the targetted zones so that we get better results.

    Thanks very much ADAH AND DIVINE