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Cameroon: Assaults, rape, death threats over lesbian affair

In April, when a Cameroonian man learned that his common-law wife was attracted to women, he assaulted her, raped her lover and threatened to kill them both.

From the African Human Rights Media Network

Meyo is located 100 kilometers southeast of downtown Yaounde.

By Steeves Winner

Sysy and Max (two pseudonyms) had lived together for three years in the Meyo district of greater Yaoundé. It seemed that everything was going well in their relationship.

But then Sysy, age 30, had an encounter that would change her life. Here she recalls how the incident turned her common-law husband against her:

“On Friday, April 19, while I was having a drink at a snack bar, a young woman approached me and offered me her company. During the exchange, I realized that she was a lesbian. I was attracted by her refined behavior.

After the drink, we exchanged phone numbers. Then, a few days later, she invited me to her home. We had sex several times.

I learned something new about myself. I hadn’t known that side of me, which was asleep inside me.

When I returned to my marital home, I felt distraught. The desire for sex with my spouse faded.

Without my knowledge, he began to investigate me by searching my cell phone. There he saw love notes between my new friend and me.

Immediately, he began to threaten me and insult me, calling me a lesbian devil. He told my family about my sexual orientation. He hid my children away from me.

I took refuge at my new lover’s house. On April 26, I went back to pick up some of my belongings while my husband was out of the house — I thought. But he was spying on me. He followed my back to the home of my lover.

Logo of Defenders Without Borders

He burst into the house and struck me to the ground. He tore off my clothes. He assaulted my girlfriend and raped her in front of me as I lay on the floor helplessly. My lover lived in a secluded area, so no neighbors could hear our cries for help.

Before leaving, my husband hit me again on the head and vowed to return later to kill us. Afraid for our lives, my lover and I packed up and went to the home of one of her friends who agreed to host us for a few days.

My new partner used her savings to pay for our medical treatment. We are homeless. With help from the organization Défenseurs Sans Frontières (Defenders Without Borders), we lodged a complaint with police. So far, they have not followed up with us.

Currently we need help to find a home outside the city, far away from the husband who threatened to kill my partner and me.

The author of this article, Steeves Winner, is an LGBTI rights activist in Cameroon who writes under a pseudonym. Contact him at [email protected].

The editor of the French version of this article, Moïse Manoel, teaches in French Guiana. He has a master’s degree in sociology from the University of the West Indies. He is working toward a Ph.D. at the University of the Antilles in Martinique and researching homophobia and neocolonialism in French Guiana and Suriname.