Response: Under Cameroon law, a girl must be 15 years old to marry and a boy must be 18.However, forced and arranged marriages of girls and boys below these ages is common in northern and rural areas of Cameroon, according to sources consulted by the Resource Information Center. 81-02 of June 29, 1981, on the civil servicestipulates: "No marriage may take place if the girl is younger than 15 or the boy is younger than 18, unless the President of the Republic grants an exemption for a serious reason.There are a number of African matchmaking and dating services available online now such as Afro Introductions, and some of them may be worth a try.
A gender-profile study of women in Cameroon by the news agency Afrol News concluded: "Because of the importance attached to customs and traditions, laws protecting women are often not respected.
Despite the law, many girls are married off by their families by the age of 12. The UN committee examining Cameroon's fulfillment of its obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights concluded: "The Committee deplores the lack of progress made by the Government in combating the continuing discriminatory practices against women and girls which impede the enjoyment of their rights under the Covenant. COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES FOR 2001.
However, according to a study by the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, a U.
S.-based non-profit legal advocacy organization that promotes women's reproductive rights world-wide: "In Cameroon very early marriage still occurs in certain tribes (in Adamaoua and the Northwest, and in the Extreme-North between eight and nine years of age).
The widow often is forced to marry one of the deceased's brothers.
Refusal means that she must repay the bride price in full (she usually has no source of funds) and leave the family property.
Only the President of the Republic may determine if the reason is serious' " (CRLP 2000, 18).
By law the prospective spouses must consent freely to the marriage, and the consent of a prospective spouse who is a minor is valid only if his or her father and mother consent to the marriage (CRLP 2000, 18).
African wedding traditions go back for many centuries and even though some westernization has crept in to certain segments of African society, a lot of these traditional African weddings are still carried out today.
If people do not go back to their villages to perform the traditional wedding rites and customs, they will still replicate elements of the traditional African wedding that is practiced in their tribe whether they are in a metropolitan area of Africa or abroad.
ZCH, available at: 18 July 2018] This is not a UNHCR publication.