By Sah Terence Animbom
The deteriorating crisis in the English speaking regions of Cameroon since 2016 has exposed the most vulnerable people of society to so many dangers. More than 500,000 people have been forced to leave their natural habitats to unknown towns and cities of Cameroon where they can feel safer. Even in their new cities, the quest to meet daily needs has challenged so many young girls of English speaking origin in cities like Douala and Yaounde such that they have resorted to tolerating sexual exploitation so long as it puts food in their bellies and shelter over their heads. Those who have summoned the courage to stay in the burnt down villages and deserted towns of the region face one form of sexual and gender based violence from both alleged military and Ambazonian restoration fighters on daily basis.
On Wednesday April 17, 2019, a woman in Muloin, a village in Njinikom sub division of Boyo division was arrested by Ambazonian fighters in Njinikom and conveyed to their Camp at So-owii. She was accused by another woman in the village of haven planted a charm in her compound and of witchcraft. The suspect was thus picked up and well beaten by the Amba boys before due investigations were launched. Sources of The SUN Newspaper from Muloin village testify that the children of the accused woman were forced to travel from outside the region back to the village only to intervene in their mother’s case but were also beaten up as their mother. The Ambazonian activists who have now become the new law enforcement officers in most parts of the North West Region however after a couple of days decided to open an investigation and asked the villagers to constitute five different groups and visit five different soothsayers on the issue at hand. Our sources revealed that feedback of the findings was delivered on Thursday April 25, 2019, stating from the five different soothsayers that the accused was not the guilty one but another person using her face mysteriously.
It is worth noting that such practices of witch hunting in the rural communities in Cameroon have robbed so many women and men of their dignity. The Ambazonian fighters have charged the villagers to provide the whereabouts of the “real witch”.
Another case of Gender Based Voilence was reported just three weeks ago when some five girls from National Polytechnic Bamenda were kidnapped by Amba Boys for supposed interactions with military men in Tubah sub division. To Amba boys, no girl of Anglophone origin should be seen dating or having any intimate relationship with a military man. This situation like another in Boyo division where some three girls were arrested two months ago and detained in the Amba camp for more than two weeks for same charges are just the few that can be cited as many of such cases of gender based violence are never reported.
Rape too has been very rampant allegedly with both military and Amba boys raping young ladies on daily basis. In Bambui, a land lady revealed to The SUN Newspaper that a girl who happens to be her tenant was raped just behind her compound by dirty looking gunmen who got into the compound and went straight to her room in broad day light and walked her out of the compound with a gun pointed at her side. “I did not see the gun so I did not even notice that there was a problem, she was just biting her fingernail and moving with them as if she was just going to see off her friends. It is only when they had taken her out of the compound and raped her just behind, that she now came back crying and told us in the compound that the boys who took her out said they were Amba Boys and that they had raped her”, the landlady recounted.
There are many unconfirmed cases of military forces raping university girls in Bambui and Bambili, reason why the university area has become a very unsafe place for young girls to live.
Worthy of note is the fact that women in the crisis-rocked North West Region are not the only victims of GBV. Young boys especially have become some sort of endangered species and are very exposed to inhumane torture and indiscriminate killing perpetrated allegedly by the military especially after every attack on a military person. The military now misconstrues almost all young boys in the region as potential Amba fighters. This accounts for the reason why most young boys in the divisions of the North West region except Mezam are nowhere to be found.
Violence dominates the current socio political unrest in the region and many persons live in constant fear of the unknown.