By Leocadia Bongben
The Society of Gynecologists and Obstetricians of Cameroon, SOGOC Cameroon, has launched a referral guide for the management of rape cases.
The reference guide identifies components of clinical management approaches for the care of rape survivors, receiving survivors and first-line support, performing physical and genital examinations and the collection of forensic evidence, establishing a medico-legal document, and reporting medical findings amongst others.
On what the document will change, Prof, Robert Leke, president of the Society of Gynecologists and Obstetricians of Cameroon, SOGOC explains.
The project to design a referral document enters into the inceptive objective of SOGOC to make reproductive health accessible, available, and affordable to women in Cameroon.
Prof. Leke maintains that a major problem faced during the 32 years of existence of SOGOC has been a very high mortality rate pegged at 782 per 100,000 live births ten years ago. As such, he stresses the increase in maternal mortality, which interests SOGOC.
Leke stressed that more often after rape cases, the victim becomes pregnant leading to unwanted pregnancies and induced abortions carried out under hard and difficult circumstances which sometimes end in death.
According to Ngang Peter, consultant in the production of the rape management guide, statistics indicate that 13% of women in Cameroon have experienced sexual violence, 5 % within 12 months according to the 2018 DHS report. Also, 30 percent of maternal deaths are related to unsafe abortions he states.
Against this backdrop, Ngang says before now it was a torturous adventure that many ended up abandoning to try to get medical healthcare for survivors of rape.
Peter Ngang emphasized that recording and documentation have been sloppy, as a survivor would go to court to press charges for rape, but the report received by the examining judge is not complete or lacks certain elements to enable a meaningful judgment.
“Article 339 of the penal code, which provides guidelines on the procedure to follow for rape, does not give sufficient information to help the clinical practitioner or actors and stakeholders directly involved to interpret what to do with such cases”.
He maintains that termination of pregnancies after 12 weeks comes with increased health risks for the woman, so something had to be done. These cases take three to six months, a year, and a very long time to arrive at judgment; it becomes a very big challenge.
It is within this premise that the referral document, which he says should be used in association with international guidelines, was produced.
“Today was just to let the public know that the document exists and would be multiplied and sent out to all the regional delegates if funds permitted,” a SOGOC Board member said.
The pathway document was handed to the representatives of the Ministries of Health, Women’s Empowerment, and Justice and SOGOC network partners like CIVITAS Cameroon.