Sex tape furore sparks Cameroon’s #MeToo moment
A leaked tape of a woman having sex in the office of a prominent journalist has sparked a wave of indignation in Cameroon, highlighting entrenched problems of sexual harassment and coercion.
The encounter, pictures and a video of which have been placed on social media, took place last month in the office of journalist Martin Camus Mimb, manager of Radio Sport Info, based in Cameroon’s economic hub of Douala.
Mimb initially said that a woman who has been named Malicka and a friend of his, Wilfrid Eteki, who is also a traditional chief, had sex in his office while he was away.
But after he vowed to file legal action, Mimb found himself accused of having taken part in the event.
He then expressed regret for an “unfortunate situation” and in a letter to Malicka begged her forgiveness “for the damage to your dignity and honour.”
Attorneys for a 24-year-old woman whose first name is Malicka are pushing for judicial action against the two men.
They will file suit in the coming days, one of her lawyers, Guy Olivier Moteng, told AFP, but gave no details. Mimb and his lawyer did not respond to an AFP contact request.
Malicka has been “very hurt by the fact that her image has been spread across the world — her image is completely ruined,” said her attorney, Dominique Fousse.
“Her family is getting psychological counselling for her.”
The tape has triggered outrage among campaigners who have battled for years against sexual violence and exploitation in Cameroon.
“We live in an environment where assailants are never brought to book, either by society or by the judiciary,” said Felix Mbetbo, author of a book of first-person accounts of sexual assault.
The UN’s Population Fund estimated in January 2016 that more than a third of women in Cameroon had suffered rape or a sexual attack at some point in their life.
Minou Chrys-Tayl, a feminist who is urging women to come forward, said sexual harassment was “a curse that can be found at the head of our institutions, in small offices, in homes with domestic helpers.”
“As a businesswoman, I face sexual blackmail on a daily basis,” said marketing entrepreneur Valgadine Tonga.
“Several times, men have said to me ‘if you give me some (sex), I can make things easy'” in awarding a contract, she said. “It’s hard for a woman to work here.”
Cameroon’s Human Rights Commission hit out at “indecent, shocking or violent images” that were placed on social media and “harm human dignity.”
Marie-Therese Abena Ondoua, the minister for promoting women and the family, said the video showed “abominable and unhealthy acts which turn the woman (Malicka) into an object — a sexual object with no value.”
Other politicians have also shown their support for Malicka, although one prominent minister later deleted his remarks on social media.