Violence Against Women: HOFNA Cameroon inspires next generation of activist against GBV

By Bakah Derick First published by The Guardian Post Daily Newspaper on Monday December 9, 2019
 Photo credit: GPmEDIA

The Bamenda based women and girls rights centered non-governmental organisation Hope for the Needy Association HOFNA Cameroon joined the rest of the World to mark the 2019 edition of the 16Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign in an uncommon style. 

The HOFNA team led by the Programs Manager Munteh Florence takes the “Orange the World” message to schools in a mass campaign intended to mobilise the next generation of activists against all forms of Gender Based Violence GBV. 

HOFNA Team addressing Students
In the restive North West Capital City Bamenda; the HOFNA team successfully reached out to over 900 students who have nursed the courage to be in schools in that heart of an armed conflict that in more ways than one promotes various forms of violence against Women. 

While meeting the students with a close to over a year project “Promotion of women's economic empowerment and Rights) POWER Project” supported by the German Embassy in Cameroon, they shared on the theme of this year's observance " Orange the world: Generation Equality Stands against Rape.”

The Munteh Florence led team will highlight “the devastating consequences of rape on the individual, families and the society, how they can engage to stop rape, reporting acts that can bring about discrimination and stigmatization against victims. How they could identify violations against them, school related gender based Violence as well as all other forms of Gender Based Violence.” 

Munteh Florence Speaking

“We also engaged them on Responsible use of Social media and useful websites that can help them gain opportunities at various levels and the importance of servant leadership and volunteering which are the key values that contribute significantly to positive impact in the world, creating possibilities of positive social change in communities.” She adds. 

A debate on the topic "It is the responsibility of a woman or girl to stop rape" seemed to have been the most engaging intellectual and exciting activity with boys demonstrating an unprecedented interest in the subject matter. Their understanding and comfort in discussing the topic was enough justification on the timeliness of the HOFNA move.  

The debating teams submitted with unmatched conviction that Early and Forced marriages endorse rape while agreeing on the known two types of Rape, mental and physical, meaning that it is preconceived. They justified that parents or guardians who force their children into early marriages encourage rape as the partner will consistently force himself on the young girl against her will with the justification that they are married. 

As they celebrated their debate victory, the team that supported the motion that "It is not the responsibility of the woman or girl to stop rape" sent a clear message to society that: “it is the collective responsibility of all to stop rape by reporting, making sure perpetrators are brought to book and punished, helping victims heal from the trauma and pain as well as preventing all actions that might lead to rape such as drugs, radicalisation and the protection of women and girls in time of conflicts.” The team leader told the press

The HOFNA team used the meetings to raised awareness on Beijing Platform for Action and the UNSCR 1325 which in the year 2000 realised how issues of security and growing conflicts affected women differently, and recognized the need for women's participation in peace processes and the role women play in peacebuilding efforts. 

“We engaged them on four pillars of the UNSCR 1325: women's Participation at all levels of decision making, Protection, which highlights the importance of keeping save from acts of sexual and GBV even in conflict situations, Prevention which calls for intervention strategies in the prevention of violence against women and holding perpetrators accountable, Relief and Recovery that has to have women included in designing settlements and Refugee camps, prioritising their needs.” Christelle Bay HOFNA’s Executive Director explains. 

They young people grew in the understanding that the entire world is bound by this international mechanisms which have been signed and ratified by country Cameroon to work for the protection, safety and participation/inclusion of women.

Ngwanyui Lidwina of a sister organization Community Impact For Africa CIfA encouraged the students to dedicate their time and energy to detest all actions that may lead to violence against women and girls.
The students have also shared their experiences with regards to what they know about rape and other forms of Gender based violence. They pledged their engagement to be partners in the fight to Stop Rape; schools related gender based violence as well as all other forms of violence against women and girls.