More than half of women experienced sexual violence in Cameroon [+video]

Al Jazeera | Armed groups like Boko Haram and security forces have been accused of using rape as a weapon of war.

Video Transcript

NICOLAS HAQUE: Djamila Clarisse lives in Maroua in Cameroon’s far north region, where Boko Haram is stepping up its attacks. But she says it was a neighbor who came to her home and raped her. She was 12 at the time. When the family found out she was pregnant, the baby was taken away from her, and Djamila was abandoned.

DJAMILA CLARISSE: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: My parents chased me out of the house. I became a stain for them, a source of shame. And so I closed my eyes and hid in the forest.

NICOLAS HAQUE: According to the UN, more than half of women and girls in Cameroon have suffered from emotional and sexual violence. Rights groups say rape is a crime that goes unpunished, especially in conflict areas of the far north and the English-speaking regions. Armed groups like Boko Haram and security forces have been accused of using rape as a weapon of war.

ANDY BROOKS: The girls themselves are treated as subjects of suspicion, you know? They’ve brought what’s called “bad blood” back into the community. It’s a big mountain to climb sometimes to get the girls accepted and their children, too. Babies of Boko Haram are considered as really something to keep and ostracize.

NICOLAS HAQUE: Mairouma escaped after being abducted by Boko Haram fighters who repeatedly raped her and then forced her into marriage, where she gave birth to three children. Because of the identity of their father, Cameroon will not recognize them or register them as citizens. Without documentation, the children cannot go to school.

INTERPRETER: Life under Boko Haram was horrible, but life back here is not easy. Because of who their father is, my children cannot have an education. It’s a constant battle for us to be accepted by society. But I will fight for my children.

NICOLAS HAQUE: Despite the challenges and trauma both Mairouma and Djamila have suffered, they’re trying to rebuild their lives in a country where rape has become not just a weapon of war, but a way of robbing young girls of their childhood and their future. Nicolas Haque, Al Jazeera.

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