Training and Assessment Workshops Western Chiefs’ Sexual Violence Initiative
In November 2015, with support from the British High Commission in Cameroon, 10 western paramount chiefs were trained in Yaoundé through which they obtained the necessary skills to implement their earlier publicly signed commitments to eliminate the sexual abuse of women in their communities by aligning traditional attitudes to those of international human rights norms.
Following the training session, these chiefs committed themselves to ensure that their sub-chiefs and community women group leaders were to be educated and trained on how to further guide and deal with their local subjects in respect to issues that concern sexual violence.
As a follow-up measure, field and project team representatives of MAHSRA and other local government representatives were assigned to monitor the training and counseling sessions.
Through all 10 concerned localities whose paramount chiefs were duly certified in Yaoundé, including Balatchi, Bamessingue, Bameka, Bamougoum, Baffoussam, Bayangam, Batoufam, Baham, Bapa, Bahouan; a series of over 24 counseling meetings and training workshops were held with sub-chiefs, village quarter-heads and community women leader groups. In effect, this was to enhance their local engagement and follow-up capacities in combating gender and sexual violence against women within their sub-localities.
During the local workshops, the representing council members or notables that accompanied the chiefs to the training session in Yaoundé as well as the paramount chiefs themselves took lead as the trainers among their local nobility mates.
In the course of the knowledge obtaining processes, through effective local interpretation means, the local notables and women group leaders were able to digest and understand practical examples of sexual and gender violence acts such as rape, marital rape, physical assault, early and force marriages, heavy dowry levy, force prostitution, breast ironing and other traditional practices that violated the person and rights of their community women and girls.
Remarkably, within all the approached community workshop programs, the trainees:
- Learned and understood the moral and judicial consequences of sexual violence acts within their communities and also got equipped with appropriate knowledge tools to investigate and report recalcitrant perpetrators to their superior chiefs;
- Learned and understood the need to mitigate general community ignorance by conducting further sensitization visits within men and women meeting quarter groups, church groups, schools and ceremonial gatherings;
- Learned and understood their valued need to show moral and institutional support to victims of sexual violence within their communities;
- Bestowed upon them the responsibility to gather programs impact assessment data for their paramount chiefs against a later evaluation date.
To ascertain that program impact making progress is measured and evaluated, a series of evaluation questionnaires were distributed to concerned community women, notables and other vulnerable girls within the program localities.
And, in order to crown the on-going activities, a general field programs assessment event among the concerned locality leaders has been programmed for mid-march.