Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

Cameroon: Situation of women who are victims of rape; recourses available to these women

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 29 May 2003
Citation / Document Symbol CMR41594.FE
Reference 7
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Cameroon: Situation of women who are victims of rape; recourses available to these women, 29 May 2003, CMR41594.FE, available at: [accessed 30 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The Cameroonian Penal Code [CRLP/ACAFEJ English version] "punishes any person who by physical or moral violence forces a woman, including an adolescent, to have sexual relations with him. The punishment is imprisonment of five to ten years" (CRLP/ACAFEJ 2000, 13). Furthermore, incest is punished by a term of imprisonment of one to three years and a fine ranging from 20,000 CFA francs (US$31.84) to 500,000 CFA francs (US$795.94) (ibid.). On the issue of marital rape, [CRLP/ACAFEJ English version] "legal opinion in Cameroon appears to be divided, and case law reflects a cautious attitude" (ibid.).

According to the Centre for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP) and the Association of Women Jurists of Cameroon (Association camerounaise des femmes juristes, ACAFEJ):

[CRLP/ACAFEJ English version]

Domestic violence – both physical and emotional – is common in Cameroon. This practice is encouraged by judges' acceptance of the principle that a man has "disciplinary rights" over his wife. Factors leading to violence include a wife's refusal to have sexual relations and a husband's alcoholism.


The Cameroonian courts hear few incest cases. Persons who are the victims of incest often refrain from filing complaints, often out of shame, a desire to protect the family, or out of fear of becoming social outcasts (ibid.).

Although abortion is illegal in Cameroon, it is permitted in the case of women who become pregnant as a result of rape (CRLP Dec. 1999, 76).

According to Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2002, perpetrators of sexual assault are often punished by the victim's family or village (31 Mar. 2003, Sec. 5). Extralegal punishments included, among others, the destruction of private property and beatings (Country Reports 2002 31 Mar. 2003, Sec. 5).

The Association of Women Jurists of Cameroon (ACAFEJ), founded in 1989, and the Association Against Violence Toward Women (Association de lutte contre les violences faites aux femmes, ALVF), founded in 1991, are Cameroonian non-governmental organizations dedicated to fighting for women's rights (HRI n.d.a; ibid. n.d.b). The ACAFEJ fights discrimination against women and contributes to the development of new laws to improve the status of women in Cameroon (ibid. n.d.a). The ALVF fights violence against Cameroonian women, conducts research on this issue, and organizes awareness campaigns (ibid. n.d.b).

General information on the situation of women in Cameroon can be found in CMR32649.E of 8 September 1999 and CMR39831.E of 23 October 2002. No additional information on the treatment of women who are victims of rape in Cameroon or on the recourses available to them could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints for this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Center for Reproductive Law and Policy and Association camerounaise des femmes juristes (CRLP/ACAFEJ). 2000. Les droits des femmes en matière de santé reproductive au Cameroun. [Accessed 23 May 2003]

Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP). December 1999. "Cameroon." Women of the World: Laws and Policies Affecting Their Reporductive Lives - Francophone Africa. [Accessed 23 May 2003]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2002. 31 March 2003. United States Department of State. Washington, D.C. [Accessed 26 May 2003]

Human Rights Internet (HRI). n.d.a. "Association camerounaise des femmes juristes (ACAFEJ)." [Accessed 23 May 2003]

______. n.d.b. "Association de lutte contre les violences faites aux femmes." [Accessed 23 May 2003]

Additional Sources Consulted

The Association de lutte contre les violences faites aux femmes (ALVF) in Cameroon could not respond to a request for information within the time contraints.

IRB Databases


Internet sites, including:

Amnesty International

Association des femmes camerounaises

Human Rights Watch

Rape Crisis Center

Revue africaine de la santé reproductive

United Nations Development Fund for Women

United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women

United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW)


World Health Organization

Search engines, including:



Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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