Cameroon: A flash of red thong leads to arrest

Police in southern Cameroon arrested a gay man shortly before Christmas after noticing that he was wearing a red thong, which was briefly visible as he climbed onto a motorbike.

From the African Human Rights Media Network

A street scene in Ebowowa in southern Cameroon. (Photo courtesy of


By Courtney Stans

Thom (pseudonym), age 29, was arrested around 4 p.m on Dec. 22 in Ebolowa as he went to see friends at a popular meeting place that was under police observation.

Police spotted a red thong under his pants as he got onto a motorbike. On that basis, they concluded that he was a homosexual, believing that no heterosexual would wear such attire.

Ebolowa is located in southwestern Cameroon inland from Kribi. (Map courtesy of and Encyclopedia Britannica)

They arrested Thom and took him to the police station. There they barraged him with questions and searched his phone, seeking incriminating photos.

Thom was held in police custody for two days. He was then taken to a doctor for an anal examination aimed at determining when he was homosexual. That test was inconclusive.

Police still did not release him.

Charges against him were only dismissed after a friend paid police a bribe of 100,000 FCFA (about US $187). Finally, Thom was released.

Internationally, anal exams are categorized as human rights abuse. They are also worthless as a method of discovering a person’s sexual behavior.

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture has said that forced anal examinations are cruel, inhuman, and degrading. The Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and other UN agencies have also condemned them.

The author of this article, Courtney Stans, is a Cameroonian journalist who writes under a pseudonym. Contact her at [email protected].