Briefing paper
25 August 2021

Cameroon: Norms and gender-based violence in hospitals

Author: Community Centre for Integrated Development
Published by: ALIGN, Community Centre for Integrated Development
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The Community Centre For Integrated Development (CCID) - a youth-led organisation in Cameroon created to advocate for and advance the rights of women and girls – conducted research to establish the prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV) in health facilities in the Buea Health District, to identify forms of GBV in health facilities and to explore the gender norms that underpin GBV in the health sector. As part of its research, CCID examined the effects of GBV on female staff and sought to identify the policies addressing GBV in the district. CCID conducted research in 17 government run and private health facilities in Buea Health District. A total of 128 hospital workers (nurses, midwives, doctors, cleaning staff, among others), 85% of whom were female, were surveyed for the study. Survey findings were complemented with key informant interviews with managers from five institutions.

This report finds that female health workers in Cameroon’s Buea Health District experience three main forms of GBV: physical, emotional and sexual. The most frequent perpetrators of violence against women within hospitals were reported to be managers, male workers and male patients. The social norms identified as underpinning GBV include expectations that women will submit to such violence since they are seen as 'objects' to be possessed by men. Health workers also report a lack of effective reporting channels, a lack of knowledge and empathy among administrators, inadequate responses from law enforcement and the silence of survivors who may fear that they will lose their jobs if they report GBV.  

Respondents believe that an effective GBV policy would help reduce such violence in the workplace. Currently, hospital managers trivialise GBV and there are no reporting channels or specific regulations that target GBV in hospitals. Respondents suggested that hospitals make efforts to raise awareness about GBV in particular and violence in general, train hospital workers on GBV policy requirements and encourage all staff to report GBV.

This report is an output from the second round of ALIGN's micro-granting facility which provides organisations based in low- and middle-income countries with grants for research and learning. See more about this round of funding.