So far, the new year has been a time of difficult revelations for Lina, a 20-year-old lesbian living with her family in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
By Courtney Stans
Lina (a pseudonym) had long hidden her sexual orientation from her family.
She had always known how to make up stories to keep them in the dark about her real orientation. But on Jan. 15, when she returned from an outing at around 5 a.m., she was confronted by her older sister, who questioned her about her late return.
At sunrise, her father reprimanded her for repeatedly staying out late. He told her he suspected that she was a lesbian, then beat her. She confessed the truth.
Enraged, her parents threw her out of the house. Lina didn’t know where to go.
She stayed for two days at friend’s house. Then she got in touch with the advocacy group Défenseurs Sans Frontières, or DSF (Defenders Without Borders) and asked them to help her.
DSF executive coordinator Stéphane Aboa stated:
“It is always a very complex situation when a parent throws a a young girl into the street because of her sexual orientation. First, DSF takes the trouble to carefully analyze the outline of the story before considering anything. In this case, mediation was the option chosen.”
On Jan. 20, a small team led by DSF went to meet Lina’s father. He was surprised by the young team’s politeness, eloquence and mastery of the principles of law.
The DSF team, headed by Aboa, described the dangers that confront a girl living on the street after being evicted by her family — rape, assault, prostitution and more. The team argued that a girl’s real or supposed sexual orientation is not a reason to evict her; instead, it’s a reason to give her more attention and more protection.
After listening carefully to the team, Lina’s father said he would allow her to return home if she would agree not to stay out so late.
The author of this article, Courtney Stans, is a journalist in Cameroon who writes under a pseudonym. Contact her at [email protected].