By Gracious Berinyu
Cameroonians, recently, commemorated the International Day of the Girl Child amid human rights abuses perpetrated on the female gender.
While much progress has been made in the last two decades to ensure every girl can grow and develop in good health, there is much still to do.
Reports say 12 million girls below the age of 18 are getting married every year. Another holds that one in five girls globally has experienced sexual violence.
In Eastern and Southern Africa, for instance, nearly 80% of new HIV infections among adolescents are among girls.
This day’s celebration comes at a time when the phenomenon of rape is experiencing worrying growth in Cameroon. More cases of sexual assault are recorded and feed daily newspapers. Victims have decided to break the silence to get out of this infernal circle. The most popular group of the last 10 years X-Maleya denounced the rape through their song “your daughter is not your wife” and some found the video to be very violent, yet thousands of young girls experience the horror daily in Cameroon.
According to Unicef, in Cameroon, 60% of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 have had experiences of sexual assault and 40% of them have never mentioned it. The National Network of Aunties Associations Renata, an NGO fighting against sexual abuse of women and girls, has been reporting on the phenomenon for a long time.
While Dinabelle Mbuh, head of the SOS Viol pavilion within the organization, even said ” to have identified several cases of rape, many more than before ” at the height of the coronavirus pandemic
Recording that, armed conflict in the North West and Southwest regions caused over 680,000 IDPs in addition to some 204 000 returnees and 52000 refugees in Nigeria according to the UN. 52% of IDPs are women and children at risks of sexual violence, sexual slavery, trafficking, forced marriage and an increased prostitution for survival and security.
Meanwhile, Sexual violence, Sexual slavery, trafficking, forced marriage just to name but these are some of the common forms of Gender-Based Violence GBV, perpetrated on women and girls in the restive Southwest and Northwest regions of Cameroon amidst socio-political crisis.
Recording September 2020, an ignoble news item made the rounds of newspapers and social networks in Cameroon. A 17year- old girl raped in Douala, the economic capital of the country. Owning that it’s just one among many cases.
To commemorate the day, WHO co-organized a virtual intergenerational dialogue between girl advocates and high-level leaders about putting girls and their rights at the centre of decision-making processes.
Some are Murder, glaring example the three University of Buea girls recently killed and two in the university of Yaounde within a year.
While some have decided to break the silence in front of the many calls launched on social networks by influencers. Cameroon had indeed experienced a wave of freedom of speech in the wake of the global #metoo movement which encouraged, in 2017, women victims of sexual assault to speak out on the subject.
The idea behind this day is to acknowledge and celebrate the importance and potential of girls around the world and to promote gender equality. The day also aims to drive efforts to eliminate unique challenges that girls face and drive efforts that meet these needs and fulfil their rights – not benevolently for them, but in partnership with them.
This year’s International Day of the Girl was celebrated under the theme “Our Voice, Our equal future” The day is being observed on every October 11.