Birango's Blog

Big man syndrome and rape in Cameroon! | March 1, 2011

Cameroon has distinct regional cultural, religious, and political traditions as well as ethnic variety. The division of the country into British- and French-ruled League of Nations mandates after World War I created Anglophone and Francophone regions.

Polygyny and fertility rank high in the nations culture design. Power and the ‘big man syndrome’ are also deeply imprinted in this nation’s fabric, what, with the country’s leader, President Paul Biya being at the helm since 1982.

Not so much has been heard about this footballing powerhouse and yet the alarming figures about rape victims (1 out of 20 girls is a rape victim) are a cause for concern as they vie to outfox the nation’s footballing exploits.

In Cameroon 1 out of 20 girls and women have been raped! That is an astounding number and means that there are over 430,000 rape victims right now in Cameroon. Of those raped, 18% or 78,000 were raped by a family member. The average age of a rape victim in Cameroon is 15 years old. Of the 430,000 rape victims, 27% of them have been raped 2 times or more, and 9.4% of them were victims of collective rape.

Rape can be pursued criminally in Cameroon however the evidence presented showed that this was rarely the case. In fact, of the 430,000 rape victims only:

– 32% sought medical attention

– 23% obtained a medical certificate

– 16% launched a complaint

– 7% went to court

– 5% resulted in imprisonment for the perpetrator

Girls and women who are victims of rape are vulnerable to being infected with sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and to getting pregnant. In addition, they face social stigma and in certain cases family abandonment.

Rape has been so confused with stereo types in Africa, which has left it to flourish. Most rapes are incestuous, and normally by elder members of the societies who take the loop holes provided by an a very trusting, gullible, ignorant and dependent society.

Aren’t girls who dress sexily asking to be raped? Don’t girls really mean yes when they say no? And don’t husbands have the right to have sex with their wives even if the wives don’t want to? These are some of the questions asked by sometimes well meaning people in Africa. Little do they know that they are opening up a huge problem of a wasted motherhood and society as a whole.

It should further be noticed that so many men of God are being arrested on charges of rape or defilement. So many people think that pastors or priest are righteous men and can never commit such atrocities.

This shows how ignorant people are about rape in Africa, with special emphasis on Cameroon. Actually it could be an abomination in some communities to accuse the men of God. On a rather sad note I was perplexed when watching a documentary about rape in Cameroon that some of the victims who went to report to Police, where in return raped by the despicable officers.

In some parts of Cameroon, men and guests have to first eat before the women and children have to have their cold share and some parts of meaty meals, generally the good ones are for men only. With so much spiritualism in this amazing and somewhat strange country, one does not need to know why rape is almost becoming its middle name.

The women are disarmed too and especially when they are influenced by men, Worried that her daughters’ budding breasts would expose them to the risk of sexual harassment and even rape, their mother Philomene Moungang started ‘ironing’ the girls’ bosoms with a heated stone.

“I did it to my two girls when they were eight years old. I would take the grinding stone, heat it in the fire and press it hard on the breasts,” Moungang said.

“They cried and said it was painful. But I explained that it was for their own good.” Now that one is the winner, dubbed breast ironing. More about it! Hmm!

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