Fight against sexual violence and for gender justice

Screenshot from a film by another Mission 21 partner organization (AI-Chris-WoV) that focuses on the position of women in Cameroonian everyday life. See the full film at bitly.com/womencameroon. Photo: Mission 21

Mission 21 is increasingly expanding its projects for the prevention of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases to include the topic of gender justice. Sexual violence is an important risk factor for HIV transmission. Women and girls who experience sexual violence have a roughly threefold higher risk of becoming infected with HIV in the course of their lives. In Cameroon, 22,000 people were newly infected with HIV within a year - over 77 percent of them women.

Rita Mbah, coordinator in the health project that Mission 21 runs together with the partner church Presbyterian Church in Cameroon (PCC), says: "If we want to see an end to the AIDS epidemic, we have to tackle gender-based violence." To that end, she has opened a low-threshold center in Buea for young people on all issues related to sexuality. The "Freemind Center" in Buea offers adolescents and young adults counseling on topics such as personal development, relationships and sex. The team provides information about sexually transmitted diseases and forms of sexual violence.

Courses such as "Sexy, clever and safe" also address gender roles and equality. It is shown how patriarchal cultural norms and values can violate the rights and dignity of women and girls. Educating teens and young adults about sexual issues here goes hand in hand with working toward a gender-equitable world.

You can find more on this topic in the current issue of Mission 21, "begegnen":

► Read June issue encounter

► Women and Gender Unit of Mission 21

► Project Health Care and HIV in Rural Areas

► Presbyterian Church in Cameroon (PCC)

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