The rate of femicide in Cameroon is reaching alarming proportions with cases skyrocketing every other day.
The Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and the family says since January 2023, more than 50 cases of women and young girls have reportedly died as a result of gender based violence.
Even more disturbing is the fact that many women have carried the secret to their graves.
Pain, shame and the absence of an outlet for women to be able to find safety have been advanced by Carline Ntamsen Chalifack, a Canada-based Women’s Rights Defender and Founder of Dunamis Helping Hands Foundation as some of the reason for this silence.
While a handful of these women are holding on to their marriage vows, others are being blackmailed by tradition that the man is the superior being.
Nayah Ndefru, a US-based relationship talk show host, adds that some victims choose to suffer in silence because of the financial comfort their partners provide.
Sakina’s Six-Year Ordeal
Sakina Z (anonymous) a victim of gender based violence shares her love story that turned sour.
“For six years, I was in hell! My husband is no ordinary man… a well educated medical doctor. I was tortured thrice while pregnant. I was deprived of my rights, treated like a maid in my own house. I was so humiliated and depressed. I felt like there was no reason to live. I tried commiting suicide several times but didn’t succeed,” recounts Sakina Z amid tears.
Asked why she swallowed all the abuses for this long she said the fear of her children growing up in a broken home and the hopes that her nightmare might someday turn into a fairytale kept her glued to a marriage that knew only the language of violence.
But as her hopes of a matrimony without bruises slowly got shattered, the mother of three finally had to let go especially when her kids where no longer a priority to their violent father.
“I decided to run for my life when I realized that even the children were no longer important to him. He had no time for either of us. We were completely cut off from his life as he was busy building another family,” she explains.
The victim advises women who have been turned into punching bags to choose wisely and run at the very first slap as life has no duplicate.
“There is more to life, outside of those four walls of gender based violence,” she argues.
Though Law experts have decried the non-existence of specific laws against domestic violence they insist that the Cameroon penal code in its section 275 and 289 punishes perpetrators of any forms of violence irrespective of their gender.
Women are therefore encouraged to muster courage and use the full weight of the law to seek justice as perpetrators risk up to four years imprisonment with these legal instruments.