The population of the West Region has been enjoined to be on the lookout for abuse perpetrated on Children with Disabilities (CWDs) in the community. Prof. Tih Pius Muffih, Director of the Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) Health Services made the call at the launching of a Disability Inclusive Child Protection Initiative in Bafoussam recently.
“As you live in the community, your eyes should be open to the child abuse, abuse of adolescence and adults,” emphasized Prof. Tih. The DHS used the occasion to situate participants on child abuse issues in Cameroon. “An estimated 51% of the population especially [women] females have experienced one form of abuse or the other, with the highest rates being physical and sexual abuses.”
According to the Public Health expert, these alarming rates of abuse motivated the CBC Health Services to conduct a research to identify the forms of abuse that young children with disabilities face and contributing factors, in order to put in place appropriate measures to limit and prevent them.
“The research showed that forms of abuse on children range from rubbing of paper on the anus of children as form of punishment, rape, and neglect of sending CWDs to school, to engaging children in excessive labour. Sadly enough they often go unreported because the victims are not aware of where to report and also lack confidence in the judicial system which is long and winding,” revealed Prof. Tih.
This research also led to the first ever Symposium on Child Abuse in Cameroon in 2019.
Presenting the Disability Inclusive Child Protection initiative, Mrs. Agho Glory, Programme Manager for Empowerment and Disability Inclusive Development (EDID) Programme said the initiative is geared towards protecting Children, Youths, and Adults with Disabilities against all forms of abuse.
“The overall objective is to have a child safeguarding and protection mechanism in place that meet the international standards to effectively protect Children and Youths with Disabilities from abuse and maltreatment in Cameroon by April 2022,” she said.
Declaring the initiative launched, Mr. Ngongo Eteme, Chief of Cultural and Social Affairs Division at the West Regional Governor’s Office saluted the CBC Health Services’ work in promoting and ensuring the welfare of CWDs. He further underscored that the Disability Child Protection Initiative aligns with the Country’s National Child Protection Policy of 2017 to 2026, informed by International, Regional, and National legislation aimed at mobilizing and harmonizing Child Protection efforts.
The abuse of children is a global human right and public health issue, with significant negative health and social impacts on children’s development, but the West Region stands out in its own class.
According to Mr. Fidelis Njie Ewumbwe, West Regional Delegate of Social Affairs, the region is host to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the crisis-stricken parts of Cameroon who sometimes undergo abuse as a result of the circumstances they find themselves and settling into. “Therefore the launching of the Disability Child Protection Initiative in the West Region is a stitch in time to the alarming rates of abuses in the region,” he said.
The World Report on Violence against Children states that Children with Disabilities face violence 4 to 5 times more often than their non-disabled peers.
It’s worth stating that the launching ceremony on February 18, 2021 culminated with commitment by all government stakeholders, CBC Health Services’ leaders and Partner Organizations to end all forms of abuse on children.
The commitment read; “Together let us protect Children, Youths and Adults with disabilities from all forms of abuse. I commit to take all appropriate measures, within my powers to stop the abuse of all persons, especially children, youths and adults with disabilities in the West Region of Cameroon”.