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Why Cameroun Needs Maputo (French and English)

Written By: Reine Rosine Agang
August 7, 2009

 

Maputo Protocol

Archbishop Christian Tumi has recently been making public statements criticizing Camerounian President Paul Biya for joining 27 other African nations by ratifying the Maputo Protocol this past May. This criticism culminated in a 20,000 strong protest in Douala, Cameroun’s second largest city, just over a week ago.  According to Archbishop Tumi and his supporters, President Biya’s decision to ratify this much-needed women’s rights document is an offence to the human family and opens the door to the legalization of homosexuality.

I have to say I disagree.

First, and most simply refuted, is Archbishop Tumi’s allegation regarding homosexuality.  Homosexuality isn’t mentioned anywhere in the document, not one time, as Chelsea pointed out last week.

But more importantly, I’d like to examine article 14, which is the article Archbishop Tumi has taken such umbrage with.  It calls on states to “protect the reproductive rights of women by authorizing medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the foetus.”  In Cameroun, according to laws in place long before this May, abortion is already legal in cases of rape or to save the mother’s life.  Approximately 20% of women in Cameroun have had an abortion, many of which were performed in unsafe conditions resulting in a plethora of complications, including death.  The Maputo Protocol seeks to decrease the number of complications and deaths, not increase the number of abortions.  The World Health Organization estimates that 13% of maternal deaths are caused by unsafe abortion.  That means nearly 750 women die in Cameroun from unsafe abortion each year.  Losing 750 mothers, sisters, aunts and daughters every year is unacceptable and considering this, I think we can use all the help we can get to reduce the number of women’s lives that are lost.

In addition, the Maputo Protocol does a lot more than call for greater access to safe abortion services.  It is a comprehensive listing of women’s rights.  It calls for the elimination of discrimination against women.  It calls for the end to harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation.  It declares that every woman has the right to respect as a person, and to be protected from physical, sexual and verbal violence.  It calls on the state to enforce laws about rape, promote girls education and education on gender equality, to condemn trafficking in women, and to ensure a minimum age of consent for marriage of 18, thus fighting early and forced marriage of young girls.  The Maputo Protocol gives women the right to peace, to education and training, to economic and social welfare.  We applaud President Biya for recognizing how much Cameroun needed this document, and we call on him to take the necessary steps to implement the Protocol and make its grand ideals a reality for the women in Cameroun.

Reine Rosine Agang works for Association pour la Lutte contres les violences faites aux femmes (ALVF), or the Association for the Fight against Violence against Women.

Pourquoi le Cameroun a besoin de Maputo

Par le Protocol de Maputo, le Cameroun a joint 27 autres nations africaines qui soutiennent les droits des femmes.  La décision du Président Paul Biya de ratifier le Protocol en mai dernier a été critique publiquement par l’évêque Christian Tumi.  Les déclarations de l’évêque ont provoque une manifestation de 20,000 personnes a Douala, la deuxième ville de Cameroun, il y’a a peine de semaine seulement.  Selon l’évêque Tumi et ses sympathisants, la décision du Président Biya de ratifier le document important que protégeant le droits des femmes est “une offense contre la famille humain” et “ouvre aussi la porte a la légalisation de l’homosexualité.

Je dois dire que je ne suis pas en accord.

D’abord, plus simplement, est l’allégation selon de l’homosexualité.  Comme Chelsea l’a remarquée la semaine dernière, l’homosexualité n’était pas du tout citée dans le document.

Mais plus important, je voudrais examiner l’article 14, qui a offensé l’évêque.  L’article fait appel aux différents états a   « protéger les droits reproductifs des femmes, particulièrement en autorisant l’avortement médicalisé, en cas d’agression sexuelle, de viol, d’inceste et lorsque la grossesse met en danger la santé mentale et physique de la mère ou la vie de la mère ou du fœtus. »  En Cameroun, d’âpres les lois existantes jusqu’a mai dernier, l’avortement est légal en cas de le viol ou de sauver la vie de la mère.  Approximativement 20% des femmes en Cameroun ont subi  un’ avortement, beaucoup ont était fait dans les conditions insalubre et a risque, résultant en des complications multiples, même la mort.  Le Protocol de Maputo cherche a réduire le nombre de complications et de décès, pas d’augmenter le nombre d’avortements.  L’Organisation Mondiale de la Sante estime que 13% des décès maternelles sont causées par l’avortement a risque.  Pour cette raison 750 femmes meurent tous les ans au Cameroun à la suite d’avortement à risque.  La perdue de 750 mères, sœurs, tantes et filles chaque année est inacceptable, et ainsi je pense que nous pouvons utiliser tout l’aide possible pour réduire la morts des femmes.

De plus, le Protocol de Maputo traite plus de seulement avortement.  Il est une liste compréhensive des droits des femmes.   Il appelle a l’élimination de la discrimination contre les femmes.  Il appelle a un fin a des pratiques traditionnelles néfastes comme les mutilations génitales féminines.    Il déclare que chaque femme a le droit au respect en tant que personne, d’êtres protégés du viol physique, sexuel et verbal.    Il fait appel a l’état a faire respecter les lois sur le viol, de promouvoir l’éducation des filles et l’éducation sur l’égalité des sexes, de condamner le transport forcées des femmes et filles, et d’assurer un âge minimum de consentement au mariage de 18 ans, donc la lutte contre las mariages précoces et forcés des jeunes filles.    Le Protocol de Maputo donne aux femmes les droits a la paix, a l’éducation et la formation, au développement économique et social.   Nous applaudissons le Président Biya pour reconnais combien Cameroun a besoin de ce document, et nous l’appelons a prendre les mesures nécessaires d’implémenter le Protocol et de faires ses grandes idéaux en une réalité pour les femmes au Cameroun.

5 Responses to "Why Cameroun Needs Maputo (French and English)"
  1. Zee Mafor Achu Samba says:

    The issues’ concerning women in Africa is generally pathetic. The Maputo declaration is a good attempt towards curbing down on what African women suffer year in year out / century in century out. Women in Africa and in most parts of the world have suffered huge trauma due to abuse (psychologically and physically) and are now being recognized in present time. The Maputo declaration as well as other Human Rights declarations on the protection of Women, clearly identifies the key issues women suffer in Africa.

  2. Zee says:

    With the growing deterioration of many economies today, Article 14 of this declaration not excluding the whole document will help curb on a lot of situations that have a hand to play in Africa's bad economies. The idea of unwanted babies contributes to an increase in the world's population that is already a threat on today’s world economy.

  3. Zee says:

    Apart from the situation of unwanted babies, women with the clauses enshrined in the Maputo declaration, get protected from their sexual choice/orientation. They can decide on how many children they would like to have and if at all they want to have children. The declaration protects them from the fear of severe negative social consequences such as stigmatization, ostracism, abuse, economic deprivation and the fear of divorce due to infertility. Childlessness in Africa is considered a taboo. This has also contributed to women giving birth to so many children just to satisfy this insecurity concept that causes a lot of trouble in marital homes, whether monogamous or polygamous. They now have the right and freedom of choice, and have control over their sexual or reproductive organs.

  4. Zee says:

    This declaration if properly handled and due to its good timing as regards the economic situation in most economies the world over, will go a long way. There is no room for getting a continent over populated with limited resources. There is no point attaining a stage where people outnumber the economic resources which are already limited. With this declaration, if women are oriented on its existence and are cautioned the right way to use it, I do not think it will not cause much tension with the ideas of the Catholic Church or African family values. At the same time if the African men/women are educated on the advantages of the Maputo declaration on the African economies in terms of population control, then it will be an added applauded advantage to the African presidents.

  5. Zee says:

    The Catholic Church has its concerns on abortion and its unspiritual hitch, but religion and law really never come to terms with each other. The Maputo declaration works on the set rules that improve on the situation of a set society, according to what is regarded highly problematic in that set society at that time. Religion to me has to do with the ethical obligation and goes on an individual basis. The Maputo declaration, if put in place efficiently, is a good initiative towards the protection of women in Africa.

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