ELLES Cameroun is a lesbian association in Douala, Cameroon. It is run for and by lesbians and came into existence after discovering that most female activists mainly worked on the issues of gay men, instead of focusing on the needs of the lesbian community.
Lesbian women face issues not experienced by gay men, in a largely heteronormative society. Cameroon is a homophobic country, with homosexuality being a criminal act by law. Punishments of up to five years in jail are possible. The fact that all electronic exchanges (e.g., via e-mail, WhatsApp or other messenger services), which contain sexual messages between two persons of the same sex are punishable, makes things even worse.
We funded ELLES’s project Regeneration so they could mobilize the lesbian community in Douala, create a team spirit, increase lesbians’ self-esteem, and improve knowledge on human rights and women’s rights. They achieved this by organizing soccer matches, artistic presentations & film screenings, and by organizing awareness-raising activities honoring International Women’s Day.
- Exchanges between lesbian women and their respective environments have taken place;
- Educational discussions and sessions were held;
- LBT women were sensitized on human rights, particularly in relation to gender-based violence;
- Several activities were organized as part of the 2018 Women’s Week Celebration, such as:
- A sports walk;
- A roundtable debate with women from 4 different social groups;
- A recreational evening.
- Multiple sports events were organized during the project’s runtime;
- A photo shoot was held to honor IDAHOT;
- A cinematographic projection on arbitrary arrests of lesbians in Cameroon took place;
- An excursion was made to the jungle, offering opportunities for activities such as educational chats, a football match, picnic, relaxation, and hiking;
- Sensitization sessions combined with sports were held;
- People were offered the opportunity to join an art activity, where participants were invited to express experiences with violence, through singing or drawing.