Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Press Release: Armed Forces Jubilee:Women Still Far Off the Mark

The celebration of  the golden jubilee of the founding of the Cameroon army on November29, 2010 in Bamenda coincides with the 10th  Anniversary of the United Nations Security Council's  landmark Resolution 1325, which aimed to put an end to sexual violence against women and girls in armed conflict and to encourage greater participation by female military officers in high decision  making levels and in peace  building initiatives. It is  also a happy coincidence that President Paul Biya who is the  commander  in-chief of Armed Forces chosed  November 29, which is the International Women Human Rights  Defenders Day, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of  independence of the Cameroon army with theme: Defence  Forces at the Service of Nation buildingA Common Future, which is a leading  national men's organization working with men to end  violence and all forms of discrimination against women in  Cameroon urges President Biya to take an appointment with  history on this day by making bold, new, and more specific  commitments on U.N.R 1325 which demands that member governments increase the participation of women in decisions  about peace and security. Progress in this domain in  Cameroon has unfortunately been anecdotal in the past  decade. Cameroon also missed out an opportunity last October  26, 2010 at the U.N Security Council Ministerial Open Debate  to join the 80 countries in making new commitments to its  international engagements. As Cameroon military celebrates their  50th Anniversary in Bamenda this November 29, 2010, A Common  Future Organization hails them for the brilliant  achievements in the past decade in the defence of our  territorial integrity, especially, in efforts at overcoming  the Bakassi crisis peacefully. We equally congratulate the  Cameroon police and the military that successfully took part  in international peace missions in Cambodia, Kosovo, the  Congo and others. Regrettably we note that women were not a  missions, nor have Northwest authorities associated the  women's Affairs Delegation in preparation for this important anniversary, which is against R1325. We also  regret that rape as a weapon of humiliation continues to be  used by some misguided young Cameroon soldiers on women and  girls. Cameroon media have in the last few months reported  on the conduct of the Rapid Intervention Force, BIR, in  Misaje Sub  Division, Donga Mantung, in the North West Region. This is  part of the men, masculinities and violence culture A Common  Future organisation is fighting.  We are joining like-minded organisations across the globe,   16 Days of Activism theme: Militarism and the Intersections  of violence Against Women to respond energetically to the  many reports in Cameroon of husbands who have battered their  wives to death and particularly of a police officer who this  year shut his magistrate wife to death on mere suspicion of  adultery, A Common Future is organising on the sidelines of  the military jubilee in Bamenda, a Brides March and a men  on women's shoes walkathon to protest against  domestic violence. This, unfortunately, is not limited to  husbands. The Divisional Officer for Fura Awa reported early  last year that a man there beat his sister to death on  suspicion that he visited a boyfriend.  As an act of global solidarity to challenge militarism and  demand an end to all forms of violence against Women, A  Common Future is organising a Bamenda Human Rights Film Festival form December 02- 16, 2010 with 16 selected Films  and documentaries on violence against Women in Cameroon.  Through this, we are urging Cameroon government, which is  Central Africa's military and diplomatic Superpower to  lead the region in the protection of women. This can be done  by putting women in senior level positions, and setting up a  department for inclusive security in our Ministry of  Defence.  A Common Future believes that although women have been at  the fore front of fighting violence against them, it is the  primary responsibility of men to end violence against women  by being part of the solution not part of the problem. We  challenge men to reconsider their long held beliefs about  women in an effort to create a more just society.
 Gwain Colbert 
 A Common Future

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Violence against women is a worldwide yet still hidden problem. Freedom from the threat of harassment, battering, and sexual assault is a concept that most of us have a hard time imagining because violence is such a deep part of our cultures and lives.