“Reproductive rights embrace certain human rights already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents, and other consensus documents,” including the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. As stated in Paragraph I.18 of the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights, “the human rights of women and the girl-child are an inalienable, integral, and indivisible part of universal human rights.” Paragraph II.41 also recognizes a woman’s right to accessible and adequate health care and to the widest range of family planning services, as well as equal access to education at all levels” (UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993)). Reproductive rights are of crucial importance to women’s health and equality, and it is therefore essential that states parties’ commitment to ensuring them receives serious attention.
In a survey study complemented by focus group discussions and in-depth interviews among 600 young women/girls aged between 15 and 30 years, RuWCED found that amongst the 547 complete responses, 12.4% declared having no Knowledge on Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services, and another 54.8% declared having little knowledge (FP as the sole SRH service).
⇒Women and girls with little formal education had little knowledge on their sexual and reproductive health rights and available services.
⇒Family Planning and knowledge of contraception is not available to girls below 17 years and mostly only given during ANC for those who are already ⇒pregnant and visit health facilities.
⇒Family Planning methods are not readily available to the local communities.
⇒Some confessional health facilities do not offer modern methods of contraception
⇒Unsafe abortion is very common among women of indigenous communities.
⇒The Cameroon law consenting for abortion is very complex and local communities are not empowered with the knowledge.
In the case where the woman’s abortion needs meet the requirement of the abortion laws as in the case of pregnancy resulting from a rape case, a demanding legal procedure needs to be followed before the doctor is finally authorized to conduct the abortion. By virtue of Law No 2005/007 of 27th July 2005 on the Criminal Procedure Code applicable in the territory, the procedure has been summarized in the following steps;
i. Get a medico legal certificate from a medical practitioner to show the act of sexual intercourse(in our experience, this is only valid if the rape occurred within 72 hours). Otherwise, the medical practitioner cannot verify the rape and no further process is possible.
ii. Lodge a complaint to a competent authority (police or gendarmerie with investigative unit) which will do an investigation and write a report,
iii. Get a medical certificate from a qualified practitioner attesting pregnancy,
iv. Report from investigation together with certificates from hospital forwarded to the state counsel,
v. State counsel opens a case in court and obtains court judgment establishing a good case (based on a mandatory evidence from a qualified practitioner that there is pregnancy),
vi. Where the complainer (girl) did not obtain medical certificate after rape to show proof of sexual intercourse, the court could still rely on viva voce evidence of the accused. The court of first instance and the high court of, either the place of commission of the offence, or place of arrest of the accused have jurisdiction (the court of appeal of the region will equally be competent in case of appeal).
vii. Get a certificate from state counsel to show that there is a good case authorizing the abortion. A mandatory authorization of the state counsel is necessary before a qualified medical practitioner can carry on the abortion.