Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Talk openly about rape, that is the gist of a new campaign in Cameroon, where according to a study an estimated 432,000 women and girls have been raped in the past 20 years.

Some 200 rape survivors gathered on 28 May in the capital Yaoundé, several of the women and girls telling their stories during the campaign's opening ceremony.

"From now on we are going to speak publicly about rape so it will no longer be a taboo subject in our society," said Olivia Bikoe of RENATA (Réseau National des Associations de Tantines), a local NGO that supports young mothers and one of the campaign's organizers.

As part of the campaign - led by the German development organization GTZ - women and girls who have been raped will be encouraged to talk about it in schools and in the media.

Organizers said the campaign is aimed in part at calling society's attention to rape and incest, which they say are on the rise in Cameroon.

Nearly one-fifth of the some 432,000 people raped were raped by a family member, according to the report by GTZ and the Health Ministry, based on interviews with 37,719 women across the country.

In Cameroon rape is a crime punishable by up to life in prison but only about one in 20 rapists is convicted, largely because rape is trivialized in society, Ndonko said.

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