Cameroon: Incest - Family Rape Keeps Increasing!

Authorities say it is time for victims to speak out so that the perpetrators face the law.

At a time when Cameroonian women, families and children are facing multiple humanitarian, health and moral crisis, the issue of incest is becoming a bone in the neck of authorities and its victims. During the just-ended annual conference of officials of the central, decentralised services and specialised technical units of the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and the Family (MINPROFF), Minister Abena Ondoa née Obama Marie-Thérèse decried cases of incest and rape which she said are increasing within families with the complicity of the law of silence.

The Director for the Department of the Economic Empowerment of Women at the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and the Family, Ann Chantal Handjou, says family rape is common in many homes. "We live with very close family relations who abuse our children daily and go unpunished," Ann Chantal Handjou lamented. She said it is when incest happens in certain families, members of such families turn to hide the issue because they do not want to expose a husband, brother or uncle. Also, due to shame and fear of rejection from family members or the society, victims of incest or rape turn to keep silent.

According to the Director for the Department of Economic Empowerment of Women at the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and the Family, because victims do not speak out after being raped by a family member, it is difficult to know the situation of incest in the country.

However, results of a study published by GTZ some years back indicated that rape and incest have a national prevalence of 5.2 per cent. It is also revealed that 432,833 girls and women are victims of rape in Cameroon and 18 per cent of cases of rape were perpetrated by a family member. Hence, some 77,909 girls and women were identified by the study as victims of incest in the country.

Going by the data collected, the Far North has the greatest number of incest cases in the country. The North Region is second with 15.1 per cent while the Littoral Region comes in the third position with 12.3 ...

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