Gender Based Violence targets men, women, young boys and young girls. However, our focus here shall be women and young girls who are the most vulnerable. Violence against women can be defined as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life” (Source: United Nations General Assembly, 1993, Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women).
This is a major public problem and a violation of women’s human rights and this violence is of many diverse types. Violence in the workplace, violence in the home and violence sexually by the male partners in the home just to name but a few. Gender based violence negatively affect women’s physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health. According to the global estimates published by WHO indicate that about 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. One of the most common type of this GBV is intimate partner violence with worldwide reports showing that almost one third of women who have been in relationships report that they have experienced some form of physical and\or sexual violence with their partners.
This issue of gender based violence is very common in Cameroon as women experience high levels of discrimination. The United Nations has on several occasions expressed concern about the lack of progress made by the Government of Cameroon in reforming laws and combating practices that discriminate against women and girls and violate their human rights. There is no special law dealing with this violence in Cameroon as domestic violence continues to be seen as a private matter by law enforcement officials. As there is no special law dealing with domestic violence, just a few victims of this type of violence have to file a complaint under the assault provisions of the Penal Code. Of which most often than not are not considered.
We at Bridgers want to raise awareness on GBV, it is a bad practice with so many negative effects as seen above. In order to stop this practice, the change has to begin with us.
- Regarding all individuals as equals no matter their gender is the first step.
- Respecting all forms of human rights and acknowledging that it is a right for all humans and not just “some”.
- Knowing that it starts from the home, we should teach our sons to respect and value women, and stop discrimination while raising children.
- Promote human solidarity and avoid indifference.
Together we can bring the change we all need in our society. From the Zulu term, “Ubuntu” meaning “humanity” which further translates as “I am because we are”. We can build a better world. It begins with me, it begins with you, it begins now.