By Adah Mbah, Executive Director Mother of Hope Cameroon and See the Triumph International Ambassador
Mother of Hope Cameroon-Mohcam, has been embarking on ending the stigma around intimate partner violence in Cameroon since March 2015 in partnership with See the Triumph. Fighting violence against women and girls is a permanent concern in our Head of State, His Execellency; President Paul Biya’s planning for a sustainable future within the framework of his major accomplishment policy.
Cameroon is a bilingual country with a population density of about 23.3 million, and more than 50% of its population is dominated by women. Both women and men suffer from intimate partner violence, but the torture is more severe and common for women than men. This is evident from the work of Mohcam on intimate partner violence through women’s groups in Cameroon.
Intimate partner violence extends to affecting victims’ relationships in the communities in which they belong negatively. They are stigmatized in church, women’s gathering, within their families and social groups, and at their job sites. Intimate partner violence makes women in Cameroon feel rejected, and a lot of them have died because of intimate partner violence.
Intimate partner violence also has a negative effect on the country’s growth and development because women form a bulk of the country’s population. The stories of two women whom MOHCAM have worked with Mohcam make explicit what people need to know about intimate partner violence in Cameroon.
The first woman is a teacher in her mid-30s. She has two children and is legally married to her husband, whose other children she also takes good care of. She has been abused for many years now, including physical, psychological, and economic abuse. Her husband has forced her out of the house that she contributed financially to, and she sought our help at Mohcam to ask us to intervene in the situation on her behalf.
The second woman has three young children and was abandoned by her husband after he was violent toward her for a long time. In addition to reaching out to us at Mohcam, this woman has also taken the case to many legal institutions, like the customary court, bailiff, and judicial police, but he has not followed the requirements of these legal institutions. In particular, he has not paid monthly child support for many, many years. This is a serious issue, and Mohcam has been following up to ascertain the facts, and lawyers have been brought in to handle the case.
These are typical cases amongst thousands in Cameroon. Intimate partner violence in Cameroon has grim consequences for women in their daily lives, especially in the African context. Many women have bought land properties in Cameroon, and today these assets are owned by their husbands as a result of intimate partner violence. In our country, this is slowing women’s growth and progress and is a violation of women’s rights.
For these reasons, Mohcam remains dedicated to educating and advocating for women and girls, as well as creating opportunities to build future women leaders. We believe in the values of our mothers and want to give back as mothers in the development of the lives of women and girls living with stigma and pain.