Know your rights, and be protected!

In contemporary African society, violation of human rights is almost a natural phenomenon. This is done under the pretext of familiar statements like “tradition demands that” or “our forefathers did this and it worked”. Thanks to this, forced marriages, (ill) - “legal” rape is allowed, the non-education of the young girl as well as child labor is the order of the day. The youths have always been the principal victims of such practices, especially since ignorance of the law on such issues maybe a great pull factor. However, legal youth advocate for Jeune S3 Dolly Mombe in an interview with 100%Jeune gives us guide lines as to how youths can legally fight for their rights in such cases.

How can a youth legally fight for his or her sexual and reproductive rights?

To fight for your sexual and reproductive rights, you must first of all know them. Thus, the youths should understand that: under aged/ forced marriages, rape and non-access to education is a violation of their rights and can be resisted when oppressed.  Be it his parents, school teachers or whoever, should be called to order.

If it persists, there are competent institutions that protect him or her like: the police, ministry of social affairs, associations like Renata as well as ALVF in the Far North and even at the level of school disciplinary councils.

Are there any clear sanctions put in place by the law on this phenomenon?

As per the Cameroonian law, rapists are punished by a 15 to 25 years jail term, in certain cases life imprisonment. In cases of incest, (parent or guardian), he or she might lose custody of the child under articles 298 and 31 of the penal code.  More so Article 356 of the Cameroonian penal code sanctions 5 to 10 jail term to perpetrators of forced marriages. Still as per what concerns violation of the youths right, article 346 can be put to use.

What take home message do you have for the youths?

I encourage the youths to always denounce any case of abuse, if they find themselves in any compromising position with respects to their rights. Youths should also have the hunger for notions on their rights, look for information and thus being educated.

Desmond Mbua

Freelance journalist from ASMAC