By Doh James Sonkey
Leap Girl Africa is multiplying lobbying efforts for an amendment of existing laws on sexual reproduc-tive health rights in Cameroon hitherto described as discriminatory towards adolescent girls especially-cases of rape and abortion.
A working session on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights and HIV/AIDS advocacy for and with Ado-lescent Girls and Young Women in Cameroon was organized to this effect last February 27, 2021 in the Conference hall of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon at Mvolye in the nation capital in a move to improve girls’ access to information about their Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR); train and strengthen their capacity to influence discriminatory laws and policies around SRHR and HIV/AIDS that exclude them in implementation and global fund processes.
One of the speakers at the workshop, Barrister Joy Chefu told The SUN in an exclusive chat that “when it comes to abortion, rape, we notice some discrepancies. Let’s take for instance abortion; we notice that our Code in its Section 337 talks about the punishment for abortion and Section 339 says that a woman who has a health risk can commit a health abortion. What if this woman has fistula that is unhealthy and risks her life, the law is mute on that. So we notice that a woman can actually die because she cannot commit abortion since the law does not cover this aspect. Talking about abortion for a girl who has been raped, the law says it can only be done when court judgement confirms the rape. The procedure to establish it is so demanding, time and energy consuming. In a place like Yaounde where most of it happens it is difficult to have that kind of judgement, so if you are relying on court judgement to prove rape, you will realize that by the time you finally get the court judgement probably after 6 months, 1 or 2 years, the pregnancy must have already matured or the child born because in Cameroon, we have criminal procedures that go on for 4 years.”
Other speakers at this workshop organized by Leap Girl Africa with support from Her Voice, The Global Fund, ViiV Healthcare, Y+ and Global Network of Young People Living with HIV included Dr Enow Georges, Aehshatou Manu and PertullaEligha.
Talking to reporters, the Founder and Coordinator of Leap Girl Africa, KetchaPertullaEzigha explained that “Leap Girl Africa is a young women-led organization created in 2016 to advocate for girls, young women’s rights and education to prevent and respond to sexual and gender based violence, improve girls’ access to sexual and reproductive health and rights etc. This physical session today attended by 25 girls adds to a virtual one we organized for those (about 100) found in crisis areas or far off places such as in the North West, South West, Far North and East regions who could not be present here today.”
She added that the workshop is part of their efforts to bridge existing gap on the lack of services where adolescent girls, young women can rush to when their sexual and reproductive rights are violated.