Empowering Survivors: REWAC Leads the Fight Against Gender-Based Violence in Cameroon's Northwest Region

Journalists at the press conference organised by REWAC

Several cases of violence have been reported as the armed conflict in the North West Region enters its eighth year.

Many victims and survivors of Gender based violence have either never spoken out about it or simply do not know where to seek for redress.

This worrying situation have plunged many young people into trauma. It is for this reason that the Refugee Welfare Association of Cameroon (REWAC) is spearheading a crucial campaign to address the pressing issue of gender-based violence as part of their 12-months project to reduce sexual and gender-based violence and domestic violence and abuse.

Family photograph with Journalists and REWAC staff

The call during this period is on survivors to come forward and report perpetrators while also outlining a mechanism how such a report can be done. REWAC has also highlighted the available actions that can be taken against perpetrators of these acts of violence.

Gender-based violence, a widespread and pervasive problem, has plagued many communities in the region, leaving a trail of trauma and suffering in its wake. REWAC, a non-profit organization founded in 2009, has made its mission to champion the rights and well-being of vulnerable migrants, including asylum seekers, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and other marginalized groups.

"We cannot stand idly by while our community members, especially women and girls, face the devastating consequences of gender-based violence," said Mme Jingkoh Laura the project manager explained during a briefing at REWAC. "It is our duty to empower survivors, provide them with the necessary support, and ensure that their perpetrators are held accountable." She reiterated.

REWAC's comprehensive approach to addressing GBV includes educating the community on the importance of reporting incidents and the available reporting mechanisms. Survivors are encouraged to report their perpetrators to local law enforcement, traditional authorities, or directly to REWAC's office, where they can receive confidential support and guidance.

However, REWAC recognizes that the challenges faced by survivors can be compounded when their perpetrators are from rich, well-to-do, or influential backgrounds. "We understand that survivors may be hesitant to report their perpetrators if they hold positions of power or wealth in the community," explained Jingkoh. "They may fear retaliation or doubt the impartiality of the justice system. That's why we're working to empower survivors, ensure their safety, and advocate for reforms that hold all perpetrators accountable, regardless of their social or economic status."

REWAC's project has already made significant strides in the region, with the organization conducting stakeholder meetings, capacity-building workshops, and awareness campaigns to engage the community. Through these efforts, REWAC has been able to reach traditional, religious, and community leaders, as well as frontline workers, to enhance their understanding of GBV and the available support services.

"By reporting their perpetrators, survivors can play a crucial role in ensuring that legislative sanctions are put in place," explained Jingkoh Laura. "This not only holds the perpetrators accountable but also sends a clear message that gender-based violence will not be tolerated in our communities."

The organization's commitment to gender-based violence survivors is also evident in the case management services it provides, offering victims the necessary emotional, legal, and psychological support to aid in their recovery and empowerment.

"REWAC's unwavering dedication to this issue is truly inspiring," said HRM Forchesiri, the Fon of  Bamendakwe. "By empowering survivors to come forward and report their perpetrators, they are paving the way for lasting change and a safer, more inclusive  against gender-based violence continues to gain momentum, the organization is calling on the media to amplify its message and help disseminate the information to the wider public. Through this collaborative effort, REWAC hopes to create a groundswell of support and awareness that will ultimately lead to tangible legislative reforms and a significant reduction in gender-based violence in the region.


Munya Charles Babila

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