n Africa Insight - Criminalisation of adultery in Cameroon - evaluation from group rights perspective

Volume 49 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


Although Cameroonian law advocates the protection of human rights, numerous provisions are inconsistent with these values. Prior to its amendment by an egalitarian provision, Section 361 of the Penal Code, which criminalises adultery, was discriminatory. The euphoria that greeted the amendment is questionable given that, in practice, the anti-adultery law disproportionately affects women. An egalitarian adultery law cannot advance the interests of women if its underlying premise is flawed. Social stereotypes and the language of the provision have rendered its application ineffective. In the rare but unlikely event of a conviction for adultery women are disproportionately affected. The paper advocates for either the decriminalisation of adultery or for the adoption of measures aimed at mitigating the negative consequences of criminalisation.

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