YAOUNDÈ, Cameroon – One of Cameroon’s top prelates has lamented the “moral wounds” in the country after a series of sex scandals have hit the headlines.
“Our community life has been considerably marred in recent months by the publication on social networks of obscene images revealing the intimate lives of people,” said Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Douala in an Aug. 8 pastoral letter.
On 16 June, a sex tape involving Cameroonian sports commentator Martin Camus Mimb was released online, provoking condemnation across the nation.
Mimb has since been arrested and is incarcerated in the New Bell Prison in Douala, although he has apologized to the girl involved, whose naked photos he is accused of publishing on the internet.
In July, the Cameroon Defense Minister ordered the arrest of several members of the security forces in Douala after they recorded and shared videos of young people naked in a private residence in the city’s Bonamoussadi neighborhood.
Earlier in the year, in March, over a dozen students in a high school in the country’s South Region were sanctioned after their “immoral video” went viral on social media.
“These acts, which deprive our children of their dignity, are increasingly frequent and are the subject of unspeakably violent comments, leaving the victims to a kind of popular vindictiveness,” said the Cameroon Minister of Women’s Affairs and the Family, Marie Therese Abena Ondoa.
“I denounce in the strongest terms such odious and unhealthy acts which objectify young women, making them sexual objects, devoid of any value,” she said.
Kleda said the non-consensual dissemination of intimate images, prostitution, sexual exploitation, pornography, and other sexual offenses have become real scourges in Cameroonian society.
“These unhealthy publications and these notorious attacks on modesty and good morals, in open contradiction with the Word of God and ancestral values, are taking on worrying proportions in our society every day. They are added to the long list of irresponsible, immoral and even unnatural acts committed throughout the country,” the archbishop said.
“These moral wounds inflicted on the dignity of the human person and on our social body are caused, among other things, by the widespread depravity of morals, moral relativism, hedonism, the loss of reference points and values, and the crisis of moral values,” he continued.
“The Church, to whom Christ the Lord has entrusted the deposit of faith, cannot remain indifferent to this increased and galloping corruption of morals that has been observed in our country for some time and which sows confusion in people’s minds, leading to a relaxation of morals. This is indeed a matter of the utmost importance for the personal life of Christians, the social life of our time and the future of our country,” Kleda said.
Noting that the social doctrine of the Church is rooted in the dignity of the human person, the prelate said a just society can only be achieved through respect for the transcendent dignity of the human person.
“Respect for the human person implies respect for the rights that flow from his or her. These rights predate society and are imposed on it. They are the basis of the moral legitimacy of all authority,” he said.
The archbishop said the capture and dissemination of indecent, shocking or violent images or videos through social networks or other platforms seriously undermines the dignity of the human person, his or her physical and moral integrity, modesty, public morals and good manners.
A way out of the crisis
Kleda called on the government to step up the fight against cybercrime, to promote moral education in schools and in the community; and to punish the perpetrators of criminal online acts.
The archbishop said it was critical that police officers discharge their duties in respect of the dignity of the human person.
He called on parents to become more vigilant and instill in their children the basic moral values that would make them “worthy to be called Children of God.”
Do not “reduce your duty to the mere procreation of your children,” he said.
And to Church authorities, Kleda said it was necessary that they take care of the young people entrusted to them, and to “show young people the way to Christ.”