Between uncontrollable sobs, she tries to recapture the gory moments. As her interlocutors film her and encourage her to tell her story, every single detail, she has no choice but to relive the horrible moments she is raped by someone who is paid by the State to protect her and keep her safe. This is the tale of many young girls in Cameroon.
This is one of the many tales of woe that streams every day from Cameroon, West of the Mungo. After a few hours of outcry on social media, a communique will be released indicating that the perpetrators have been arrested, and everyone will happily move on to the next gory story.
What has particularly struck me with this young girl’s story is that no one got to know her name as it is not mentioned in her video, yet everyone knows her face. Few people will remember her after a week when other events will overtake this, but she will live her whole life scarred by the incident.
She narrates how, she was stopped, asked for identification, which she did not have, and was subsequently raped, but her biggest fear, is that she could have been infected with a disease. The nursing mother of 17 pleads with her assailant hoping that it might deter him to know she is breastfeeding. That falls on deaf ears. The place is identified as Africa Petroleum at Veterinary Junction.
This case is symptomatic of the many unreported cases of teenage pregnancies and wanton rapes that have pervaded the English-Speaking regions of Cameroon. When the first batch of refugees fleeing the country arrived in Nigeria, it was reported that many of the teenage girls were pregnant. At the time, no one thought to ask the question. Could this have been through forced intercourse, due to the volatility of the situation?
As clearly indicated by the girl in our video, the reason there were no people to deter her assailant, was down to the fact that there was ‘Ghost Town’ on that day. This mandatory boycott of all activities on specified days of the week, far from having any impact on the government, has been affecting the very people it purports to be fighting for. Small businesses have gone burst and while citizens are indoors afraid to go out, the streets are manned by either state ‘security’ personnel or armed groups of ‘separatist fighters’ looking to enforce ghost towns. Another group, not reported are armed robbers who have taken advantage of the security vacuum to operate in broad daylight.
Unless the regime of Paul Biya takes active measures to engage with the current crisis, we will continue to see such images coming from Cameroon. We will continue to have kids being killed or raped, we will continue to live and wonder if that little girl has been infected by a disease, which she might ultimately pass on to her baby.
One act of sexual violence can have a lifetime of repercussions for the victim. And simply telling the world that the assailant has been arrested, without any information on whether the young girl in question has received any medical attention, does not resolve the problem. Simply arresting one rapist, does not provide protection for the millions of other girls who are at risk. Urgent action needs to be taken by the regime of Biya to address the situation. One of such actions does NOT involve calling an election for which the 86year old demagogue is also a candidate.