Be it at home, job sites, or educational facilities, in rural and or urban areas, endless reports of gender violence throughout the 10 regions of Cameroon is still prove that much is left undone.
GBV it should be said refers to any act committed against the will of a human being on the basis of sex difference, with a majority of them being violence against women, VAW. Cameroon after ratifying the convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women on August 23, 1994 and being a state party to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights amongst others, has for decades now engaged in a series of measures to curb gender based violence.
As seen in Cameroon
According to UNICEF 2000 data, the adult literacy rate of men stood at 82% as opposed to 69% for women. Practices such as violence against women in the family especially in after the demise of her spouse, battering, marital rape, female genital mutilation, FGM, trafficking, the reports adds is still very much carried out in Cameroon. This the report added is defined primarily by the nation’s ethnic and cultural differences.
In a bid to step up the fight against such practices, the government of Cameroon created the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Protection of the Family, with regional representatives in all ten regions of the nation, regional women empowerment centers, and adopted legislations all geared at protecting the girl child.
Nongovernmental organization steps in
The Martin Luther King Junior Memorial Foundation, LUKMEF, a Buea-base non-for profit organization that for years now has been championing the fight against gender based violence after repeated sensitization campaigns decided to take the fight to the next level.
This was to create an application known as Options for Women abbreviated, Ops4Women to reinforce and boost the fight against GBV.
Accessible to all platforms (mobile and web ) the app, Ops4Women, not only helps victims of violence to easily get services such as police, counseling and prompt medical attention, but equally provides a data-base of all GBV in the nation to the government and foreign bodies on the areas where more sensitization is required.
Chief Executive Officer of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation, LUKMEF, Tanyi Christian, noted that not only will witness of violence or victims be able to report violence with extreme degree of anonymity, but he equally added the phenomenon of stigmatization that often overtakes most victims will be eliminated since they will be able to report crimes without necessarily going to a police station. A scenario which to him often scares away most victims due to fear and shame.
“Gender Base Violence we should first note is a gross violation of our fundamental human rights and after the years we have been able to identify that; the violence still exist in Cameroon but in most cases are largely not reported.
And even when they are reported they are not documented thereby making evidence-based advocacy very challenging. Both from the civil society as well as the government’s angle, it is very difficult to get date on the various forms of GBV.”
He explained adding that “most people, be them victims or witnesses to violence, they find it very difficult to report the violence because of the stigma still attached to GBV as well as cultural norms. As a result, we sought to find a platform where victims as well as witnesses can report the violence wherever they are in Cameroon.”
Accessible to all
Even though the App is accessible to internet users, Tanyi Christian added that, it is very much possible to file in reports using Short Messaging Services, SMS, to the National Gender-based responds center which has been set up at the head office of LUKMEF in Buea and operating on a 24/7 basis.
With experts working in shifts at the center, Tanyi Christian explained that just by sending a short SMS to the center reporting an ongoing violence, security services will be contacted in a matter of seconds in the area where the violence is been perpetuated.
Ops4Women educational interface
Aside reporting violence, Ops4Women equally provides a broad range of educative information such as laws and punishment related to the various GBV and well as short videos with the aim of enlightening the population on the need to stamp out gender base violence.
Available on Google Play Store, Apple store and web interface, the app, Ops4Women which has so far been tested and made available to the public it should be said took the IT experts of LUKMEF little over six months for the programming to be completed and is now accessible to all.
A denizen of Buea, Beatrice Esang, attest that upon getting information on the existence of the app, she decided to download it for herself and her elder sister not to report any form of violence but to get educated on the various legislation and treaties that protect the girl child.
Cassandra Akwesse, a student in the department of women and gender of the University of Buea, says the app though just recently launched has been very useful to her and her peers since it provides not just testimonies and statistics on GBV in Cameroon but equally assist them to know the towns were such violence is still rampant so as for them to reinforce sensitization strategies.
While the creators of the app, are fine-tuning ways to launch a fierce nationwide awareness campaign on the existence of the app and its advantages, the responds so far gotten in the field, Tanyi Christian said is very promising and encouraging.