Cameroon’s group weddings for refugees offer an unexpected benefit for women

Doing the bridal dance.
Doing the bridal dance.
Image: Reuters/Andreea Campeanu
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Cameroon is helping refugees fleeing from the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria and ethnic violence in Central African Republic start new lives, by sponsoring group weddings. With over 300,000 refugees now residents, Cameroon has paid for group weddings for 200 refugee couples so far, VOA reports. The UN’s refugee agency also covers some of the costs.

The weddings are organized for refugees getting married for the first time, or those who have been widowed by the violence. In addition to helping couples start new lives, the marriages also offer a benefit to women according to Rode Baba Conde,  a UNHCR official in Cameroon.

Married women in Cameroon can inherit a spouse’s property, and also report him to the authorities if he abandons the family. The Cameroonian parliament is also expected to pass an amendment to the country’s penal code which will punish adulterous husbands with a six year jail term and fine. The law previously only punished women.

Nigerian laws, in contrast, do not state that women can inherit property. In fact, in some parts of the country, women lose their rights to property owned by their husbands or fathers once they die.

Conde says the UN will continue to partner with Cameroon to organize the group weddings as part of its commitment to protect refugees and assure their safety.