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  • Open Dreams

Legal framework for the protection of women and girls

Educational and Community Discussion on gender based violence (GBV) and the legal framework for the protection of women and girls, Thursday 23rd December 2021 at Gongo Hub, Buea.

The event, which took place in Buea-Cameroon, was organized by the Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the Ministry of Women Empowerment and the UN Women. Various civil society organizations (CSO) representatives, religious and traditional leaders were in attendance. The main aim of this event was to discuss the various legal frameworks that govern gender based violence (GBV) at the international and national level and the various mechanisms put in place to protect the victims of these malpractices.

The event started at about 11:00 am with a welcome note from Justice Mrs Nkamngoh Rose. Representing Open Dreams Buea Hub at the level of the audience were; Nahbilla Lawrentine, Anong Marion and Raphel Abine.

The first presentation by Justice Nkamngoh shed light on the international and national conventions (legal frameworks) governing gender based violence. On of such frameworks is ‘The universal declaration of human rights’, which proclaims that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with conscience and must act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

The second presentation by Magistrate Forfeke Percy Ndaseh focused on the national response to GBV in Cameroon. In the third presentation, Justice Nkamngoh demonstrated the various means by which perpetrators of GBV are prosecuted. In this regard, lawyers, police, medical officers, social workers, civil society organizations, religious and traditional leaders are called upon to work with the state in prosecuting GBV offenders. Settling issues of GBV amicably by the families of the involved persons is highly prohibited. Any of such cases is to be reported to the relevant authorities.

Barriers that limit access to justice by the survivors were identified including; unavailability, inaccessibility, lack of financial resources, lack of awareness. Recommendations to counteract these include; conducting public campaigns to challenge gender stereotypes and myths, providing gender sensitive trainings and raising awareness about the law and educational campaigns.

The last presentation, by Magistrate Forfeke, was on the protection of victims and witnesses of GBV. It is recommended that measures be taken to protect the physical security of the victims and witnesses. Under perceived danger the victims or witnesses are to be provided with police escort. In dealing with victims, measures must be taken to prevent further victimization, avoid intimidating questions and expedite the legal proceedings.

The key take home message from this discussion is the relevant role civil society organizations are asked to play in helping the state fight against GBV. We are all called upon to refer cases of GBV to authorities such as the delegation of women empowerment where proper follow-up will take place.

The event ended with a closing remark and a word of gratitude to the participants followed by light refreshment and photographs.

- Raphel Abine, Coordinator/Mentor, Open Dreams Buea Hub.

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