I have to admit that all my life I have been scared. People don’t see that, because I have a strong opinion about things.
As a child, I witnessed a lot of domestic violence. In Cameroon, it is very common from family, neighbours and community. In fact, in certain Cameroonian tribes, a man who does not beat his wife is said not to love her. As a child growing up in a rough neighborhood, my mother was scared that I could be raped since child rape was common.
Most of the Village Girls Were Married Age 12
At age 12, most of the girls from my father’s village were married (my father is from the extreme North Region of Cameroon). But I wasn’t, because my parents would not hear of it. Plus I wanted to go to school, learn, and help my friends and other young girls. I wanted to be the chief Executive Officer of my life and that is exactly what I am doing right now.
My Dreams Scare People
I began understanding the way things work around me. Men talk and women listen. I also realized that my dreams scare people. Most people will tell me that a woman is not supposed to sit, talk, walk and dress like this or that. A woman is not supposed to be this bold. A woman has to listen and not talk. Women are not supposed to be more educated than men. If a man hits you then, you must have provoked him. Well I must say that all that societal indoctrination fell into deaf ears because the ex-boyfriend who was bold enough to tell me that he will slap me, found himself out of my life faster than he ever imagined. I can go on and on and on.
My point is, we live a life of constant fear. Fear of being raped, beaten, discriminated, judged, and criticized and fear of failing and you cannot complain. What the world fails to understand is that you can’t really understand a woman’s pain. A woman’s world crumbles around her but she picks it up with dignity. So many years of bottling things up can really make a person mad.
Women in Prison
In 2011, I did research in two of the prisons in Cameroon. In one of the prisons, I met a 24 year-old girl who was in prison for the death of her husband. When I went back to research on her life outside the prison, I heard so many horrible things. Stories had it that she was cheating on her husband and when he caught on, a fight broke out and he died. I was not convinced, because she did not strike me as a violent person even though one can never tell. I went back to the prison and had a one-on-one chat with her and she told me her story.
She was a victim of an arranged and abusive marriage for years. She had more than two miscarriages because of domestic violence. She did kill her husband but it was out of self-defense.
I organized community action from my organisation, frends and family and we raised some donations for the prison. But that was the most I could do.
Blaming the Victim
I was shocked at my community because everyone blamed her. They all agreed that the couples fought often but they expected her to understand and bear the pain. After ALL, they say she is not the only one to have experienced domestic violence. There are so many issues that we can avoid in this world if we eliminate violence against women. I feel her, because it could have happened to any woman who got tired of being some man’s punching bag.
Danger at University and in the Streets
I remember how scared I and other girls used to be when we were at the university. This is because after every evening class, there will be some news the next day about one girl or another being raped or harassed. I was always scared of university strikes because that will mean more girls will be raped.
As if that is not enough, I read an article of two girls in Cameroon being stripped naked in public because they dresses indecently. Who determines if a person is well dressed or not? Is there a decency detector meter in the world? Even if a person is indecently dressed, I believe that there are better ways to address the issue rather than stripping her naked. Being naked in public in my opinion is the most indecent thing ever. I cannot stop writing and advocating for the rights of women because it is crucial to development. We all need to take the vow to stop this violence.
About Konda Delphine
"I am a 25 year-old women rights activist from Cameroon. I am currently living in Brussels, Belgium, working with an international organisation on youth, women and other development issues. From next year, I will be pursuing a Masters in governance and Development Policy in Belgium.
I am one of the founders and project coordinator of VOW Initiative, together with incredible young people like Aya Chebbi,Rose Wachuka and Safindah Karl as mentors of this project - an online women's platform that encourages women to share their stories and raise their voices.
The project also offers training on development and citizen journalism. Using social media to empower the voices of women from all over the world. Generally, I like to write, film, research and blog on women issues."
- Konda Delphine on Twitter: @delphinekonda
- Konda Delphine on Facebook
- Voice of Women Initiative on Facebook
- Konda Delphine's Blog: WOFEC-The Blog!
WOFEC-The Blog! (Women for Empowerment and Change ) is a women’s rights blog created to publish different topics on women’s issues. The main aim of this blog is to raise awareness on women issues and receive contributions from young people all over the world. It deal with issues of feminism, violence against women, girl child education, and other global issues. Through this blog, young women will have a forum to share and exchange ideas and questions on issues and challenges that they face as well as share good practices.It is open to young people, who are passionate about change and development.