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Cameroon - CEDAW - Violence against Women - February 2014

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, 57th Session (10 February to 28 February 2014)

Violence against women is a widespread problem in Cameroon despite the country's legal framework. According to a 2004 survey, 13 percent of women in Cameroon had been sexually assaulted. It is estimated that there are 500,000 rapes each year in Cameroon.

The government has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, and has signed the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. By ratifying and signing these instruments, Cameroon has promised to take action to prohibit all forms of violence against women, punish the perpetrators, provide services for victims, and take action to prevent violence against women.

The penal code states a punishment for rape, but the law is not enforced effectively. Cameroon has also failed to provide basic health care for victims. The penal code does not have specific provisions criminalizing domestic violence, and there is little support for protection of victims. Harmful practices, specifically breast ironing and female genital mutilation, are widespread in Cameroon, as well. Neither practice is specifically prohibited under current law, despite the serious health effects caused by them. The Cameroonian government claims to be revising the penal code to address violence against women more effectively, but changes have yet to be enacted.

The Advocates made recommendations regarding Cameroon's penal code, civil legislation, justice and legal centers, and provision of victim services for the United Nations' review of Cameroon.