By Irene Zih Fon
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Rape victims in Cameroon can get medical treatment at hospitals and file a police report to set a case in motion, but providing evidence to prove that rape occurred can be difficult. Others don't report incidents at all because of poverty or shame.
Once a complaint is made, the police usually arrest the suspect immediately, he says. It is up to the police to decide whether to pursue the case. If police decide the case has sufficient evidence, they forward it to the state counsel.
Ngale says the victim can choose to use the state prosecutor or hire a private lawyer.
Angoh Angoh encourages rape victims not to be afraid to report incidents because rape cases are not tried in an open court in Cameroon. He says the state maintains victims' reputation by hearing cases in the chamber of the magistrate in the presence of the two parties, the lawyers, the magistrate and any witnesses.
"Because if the public knows that a girl is a victim of rape, how many men would dare approach her?" he asks.
During the trial, Angoh Angoh says the victim must establish evidence that she resisted or was subdued by the person who allegedly raped her.
"This can be proven by circumstantial evidence, such as wounds on her body," he says. "If she shouted and people heard her, those people would support her evidence."
Otherwise, he says, the court may assume "that some girls just make up such stories to make money."
Angoh Angoh says the law also provides for a defense of provocation, in which case the court presumes that the woman contributed to the act. For instance, taking into consideration whether the woman dressed a certain way, invited the perpetrator into her room or worked as a prostitute.
He says the law also takes into account whether they'd been in a relationship before or if the woman had been giving the impression that they were in a relationship by accepting gifts from him.
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Irene Zih Fon is a correspondent for Global Press Institute's Cameroon News Desk. She covers issues ranging from gender justice to entrepreneurship to social equality.
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