Bridgers Association Cameroon


Our aim is to sensitize, spread awareness and educate on the various forms of gender-based violence; how they are all interconnected, what consequences they can have as well as possible ways to overcome them

Gender based violence is a present everywhere in the world and needs to be tackled from different angles. Of course, in some countries it is worse than in others. And unfortunately, Cameroon is still among those countries, where it is rather bad and present in many different forms and levels of society. But that does not mean, that we haven’t yet made an impact on a local level. Many organisations and individuals that have taken up the fight against gender-based violence in Cameroon, like ourselves, have already touched many lives, changed mindsets and impacted people. And we are convinced that every small step, every SINGLE individual that is reached out there will make the difference. Only together we are strong, and we will be able to move towards a brighter future to obtain the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030.
As we have demonstrated, the topic is complex. With this 5-days campaign, we only touched the very surface. Not everything could be said, and not all the forms explained and named in detail. There is so much to say about it… For instance, we have not quite touched “normalized violence”, in spanish known as “micro-machismo”. This constitutes a subtle form of violence, which is deeply internalized and most often not even realized or identified as such by the oppressed subjects themselves- which makes it even harder to fight and eliminate it. We could have talked more about domestic violence, gender-based violence at the workplace or prostitution. Firstly, we leave a few topics for future-posts where we can elaborate on those in more detail and secondly, we want to encourage you to follow up this important topic by reading more about it, by asking critical questions and by changing the own behaviour and/or helping others to do so. Thirdly, most of those forms are subforms of those categories we talked about: economic violence, psychological violence, sexual violence and physical violence. We have reached out to thousends of people with our posts and received postive feedback. Chukwuma Chukwura commented: “This is great insight. I do Gender Based Violence campaign too Nigeria. Love to connect with you.” Only TOGETHER we can have an impact.

Types of Gender Based Violence

Economic Violence

According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, Economic Violence can be defined as: “Any act or behaviour which causes economic harm to an individual. Economic violence can take the form of, for example, property damage, restricting access to financial resources, education or the labour market, or not complying with economic responsibilities, such as alimony.” 
According to Fawole lufunmilayo, a Nigerian scholar, economic violence is a form of violence in which the abuser has the total control over the economic resources and activities of an abused one. It is still underestimated and does not get enough attention in most studies. It has far reaching implications and certainly cannot be detached from other forms of violence.

“Economic violence experienced included limited access to funds and credit; controlling access to health care, employment, education, including agricultural resources; excluding from financial decision making; and discriminatory traditional laws on inheritance, property rights, and use of communal land. At work women experienced receiving unequal remuneration for work done equal in value to the men’s, were overworked and underpaid, and used for unpaid work outside the contractual agreement. Some experienced fraud and theft from some men, illegal confiscation of goods for sale, and unlawful closing down of worksites. At home, some were barred from working by partners; while other men totally abandoned family maintenance to the women. Unfortunately, economic violence results in deepening poverty and compromises educational attainment and developmental opportunities for women. It leads to physical violence, promotes sexual exploitation and the risk of contracting HIV infection, maternal morbidity and mortality, and trafficking of women and girls.”

Reference: Olufunmilayo I. Fawole, 2008: ECONOMIC VIOLENCE TO WOMEN AND GIRLS

Psychological Violence

According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, Psychological Violence can be defined as: “Any act which causes psychological harm to an individual. Psychological violence can take the form of, for example, coercion, defamation, verbal insult or harassment.” Today, there is an increasing attention to the psychological abuse of women. There are different reasons for that: It has been realized that psychological abuse may be just as detrimental or more even more detrimental than psychological abuse. In a study, 72% of the battered women reported that emotional abuse had a more severe impact than physical abuse (Follingstad at al., 1990). Another reason to focus on psychological abuse is the evidence that verbal aggression early in the relationships is a frequent precursor of physical aggression later. Thus, identifying different forms of psychological abuse may help preventing physical violence.
Reference: Sackett and Saunders 1999: The Impact of Different Forms of Psychological Abuse on Battered Women.
Understanding Psychological Violence:
“While the majority of human beings may have been a victim of some form of psychological violence at some point of their life, without a proper notion of a self it is difficult to devise effective strategies for coping with the damages inflicted by those violent acts. What does it take to heal from psychological trauma or damage? How to cultivate the well-being of a self? Those may possibly be among the most difficult and central questions that philosophers, psychologists, and social scientists have to answer in order to cultivate the well-being of individuals.”
Psychological violence includes, but is not limited to:
  • Threatening to harm the person or her or his family if she or he leaves;
  • Threatening to harm oneself;
  • Threats of violence;
  • Threats of abandonment;
  • Stalking / criminal harassment;
  • Destruction of personal property;
  • Verbal aggression;
  • Socially isolating the person;
  • Not allowing access to a telephone;
  • Not allowing a competent person to make decisions;
  • Inappropriately controlling the person’s activities;
  • Treating a person like a child or a servant;
  • Withholding companionship or affection;
  • Use of undue pressure to:
    • Sign legal documents;
    • Not seek legal assistance or advice;
    • Move out of the home;
    • Make or change a legal will or beneficiary;
    • Make or change an advance health care directive;
    • Give money or other possessions to relatives or other caregivers; and,
    • Do things the person doesn’t want to do.

“Our passion is in providing the knowledge and connecting women and girls with the right resources and opportunities that can see them thrive and become useful assets for themselves and their communities.”

Sexual Violence

We want to discuss different forms of Sexual Violence, which include, but are not limited to:
Rape within marriage or other intimate relationships (Spousal/Partner Rape): Is between two individuals who are in a relationship. Sexual violence often works alongside among abusive behavior. Women who have been physically abused by their partner have often experienced sexual abuse, and haven’t disclosed or did not realize sexual violence does not always include physical violence, making it difficult to acknowledge the abuse.
Rape by acquaintances (Acquaintance Rape, Contact Sexual Assault): Acquaintance Rape is an umbrella term used to describe sexual assaults in which the survivor and the perpetrator are known to each other, whether by passing acquaintance or someone the survivor knows intimately. This is the most common form of rape.
Stranger Rape: Is rape or sexual assault perpetrated by someone unknown to the survivor.
Unwanted sexual advances or sexual harassment (at school, work etc.) Sexual violence, including sexual harassment, frequently occurs in institutions assumed to be ‘safe’, such as schools, where perpetrators include peers and teachers. 
Systematic rape
Sexual slavery and other forms of violence, which are particularly common in armed conflicts (e.g. forced impregnation)
Sexual abuse of mentally or physically disabled people
Child Sexual Abuse, (rape and sexual abuse of children): It is a form of child abuse that includes sexual activity with a minor. A child cannot consent to any form of sexual activity, period. When a perpetrator engages with a child this way, they are committing a crime that can have lasting effects on the victim for years. Child sexual abuse does not need to include physical contact between a perpetrator and a child. Some forms of child sexual abuse include: Obscene phone calls, text messages, or digital interaction; Fondling; Exhibitionism, or exposing oneself to a minor; Masturbation in the presence of a minor or forcing the minor to masturbate; Intercourse; Sex of any kind with a minor, including vaginal, oral, or anal; Producing, owning, or sharing pornographic images or movies of children; Sex trafficking; Any other sexual conduct that is harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare.
Customary’ forms of sexual violence: For example: forced marriage or cohabitation and wife inheritance, breast ironing, female Genital Mutilation, etc.
Blitz Sexual Assault: The perpetrator rapidly and brutally assaults the victim with no prior contact. Blitz assaults usually occur at night in a public place.
Serial Rape: Is the most frequently sensationalized form of rape. Because of the frequently gruesome nature of the assaults and because of the opportunity to prey on people’s fears, serial rape is frequently covered extensively by the media. The term serial rape is used to describe a series of rapes committed on different occasions by the same perpetrator. An important distinction is that this term is rarely used to describe marital or date rape, even though these types of rapes can happen repeatedly. Instead, the serial rapist has multiple victims.
Substance Facilitated Rape: Occurs when alcohol or drugs are used to compromise an individual’s ability to consent to sexual activity. These substances make it easier for a perpetrator to commit sexual assault because they inhibit a person’s ability to resist and can prevent them from remembering the assault. Drugs and alcohol can cause diminished capacity, a legal term that varies in definition
Multiple Perpetrator/Gang Rape: Occurs when two or more perpetrators act together to sexually assault the same victim. Some common aspects of multiple-perpetrator assault include: planning the assault in advance; using substance-facilitated sexual assault; using the assault to introduce or reinforce membership in a group, such as a gang, sports team, or club; targeting a victim that has an existing connection with one of the perpetrators, often sexual in nature; beginning as a consensual activity and introducing others to participate against the victim’s will or without consent
Sexual Harassment: Is unwanted and unwelcome sexual behavior that interferes with your life, work, or education. This behavior can include verbal or physical acts as well as acts that affect you by creating an environment that is “hostile.” The harassment can take place in many different contexts: on the streets, on public transportation, in public places, or in schools, workplaces, institutions, and so on. Sexual harassment can include actions such as sexual comments, physical contact such as someone brushing up against you, demands for sexual behavior from someone who is in a position of authority or power over you (for example, a boss or a teacher), and the creation of a hostile environment.
Date Rape: Is a specific kind of acquaintance rape, referring to assaults by a man who is dating the woman and assaults her during that date.
As you can see, the list is long and we have not even covered everything. But lets move to the most important question: What can be done to STOP Sexual Violence?
–> Promote Social Norms that Protect Against Violence
–> Teach Skills to Prevent Sexual Violence
–> Provide Opportunities to Empower and Support Girls and Women
–> Provide a comprehensive response to the needs of survivors
–> Build the knowledge base and raise awareness about sexual violence

Physical Violence

According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, Physical Violence can be defined as: “Bodily harm suffered as a result of the application of immediate and unlawful physical force often associated with sexual and psychological violence resulting in injuries, distress and health problems.”
Physical violence is the most common manifestation of violence. It can be limited to the use of material and intentional force against a person, voluntarily causing them one or two wounds of variable seriousness. This form of violence refers to any intentional act (not accidental) that causes or may cause physical damage to the victim.
For Samson (2010), physical violence has three objectives, specifically, to restrict the victim’s movements, control her and make her feel fear. Its severity can vary depending on the victim’s resistance level, her health before the assault and the force exerted to the point where even seemingly less severe movements can cause deep or even fatal wounds (Magalhães, 2010). According to the study by Machado et al. (2001), the most common actions are slaps in the face, violent pushing and throwing objects. Perpetrators can use sticks, cutting or firing weapons, ropes or similar objects to tie up or tighten, and corrosive materials, among others (Magalhães, 2010).
When physical abuses are not frequent, women rarely feel victimized (Hirigoyen, 2006). This idea is particularly important when studying the victim’s understanding of herself and of the relationship that she remains in, which are central aspects in this investigation.
When a man assaults a woman, his intentions are not to give her a black eye but to show her who has the authority and the only alternative is to behave well. Thus, what is at stake when violence occurs is always a matter of dominance.”

A Poem To End Gender Based Violence

In prelude to the International Day of the Girl, and within the auspices of the World Cancer Month, we dedicate this spoken poem titled “My Breasts Must Grow” to shun Breast Ironing as a form of Gender Based Violence against the Girl Child as well as a cause to Breast Cancer. Azah Jackline is Co-Founder and General Coordinator of Bridgers Association Cameroon; Motivational Speaker and Poet.