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Opinions of Friday, 12 December 2014

Journaliste: Adolf Mongo Dipoko

Revisiting Ahidjo’s Anti- prostitution law


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If in my last write-up I sounded a little pro-Islamic extremist, it was because, I remember that some time in the early Seventies, this country had gone through one of the late President Ahidjo’s decree which proscribed prostitution, indecent dressing, as well as any immoral conduct that dehumanised what, God the Almighty had created in his own image, mankind. At least the Bible tells us so. And the Human body was his temple and must be kept sacred.

Ahidjo’s decree had a moral message that was provoked by the degree of the abuse of moral decency. Moral standards had dropped. Prostitution had become something on display in public. Young girls below 16 flooded the urban areas and had become something that every one with a conscience will condemn. And of course Ahidjo was a devout Muslim, yet not an extremist.

When he passed the degree, even the Christian Church expressed their worries about the nature of things at the time. Church Street in Victoria was a haven for prostitutes. In Douala, Yaounde, infact all big Towns had special quarters for this sex workers.

So, one of the provisions of this decree was that if you are found walking the Streets with a woman or vice versa, you will be accosted by the Police to show that the woman is your legal partner, and you had to prove this by presenting a legal document to justify your relationship.

As a young Reporter at the time, we did our best to sensitise people about this, as well as the consequences, should any one breached this decree On one weekend however, after the weekend edition of the Cameroon Outlook Newspaper, where I was a Reporter was out, I decided to spend the weekend in Tiko.

At the time cinema theatres were the boom of the time and you had to take a girl to a film show. The James Bond series was in vogue. So while in Tiko, I caught up with one girl and we decided to spend some time watching the film for the day.

But not long after we set out into the streets on our way to the cinema, we were stopped by a policeman who wanted us to identity ourselves. I produced my press card, and he was satisfied; at least that was what I thought. He asked my partner to produce her national identity card. The police man said ok and I thought we were free to continue. But the policeman now turned to the issue of the relationship between the girl and I.

“Just a friend” I said. “Not your wife?” he asked. I insisted “she is just a friend, a girl friend”. This where the story turned rough, “You must go with me to the police station, where you will explain why you are moving about with a prostitute” And that’s how I was taken to the police station along with my girl friend and locked up in a crowded cell.

My explanation and identification that I was a journalist had no meaning to the police man. For nearly three hours I was detained, my only crime being that I was in the company of a girl who happened not to be my legal wife I was only released when the commissioner came and he ordered that I be released unconditionally.

So it was at the time and it helped to trim immorality, or to be precise, prostitution to size. But thing like these don’t last. At the beginning of the second Millennium 14 years, things sprang back to life. No one seems to care what damages Western values had done to our traditional norms. Western values are clothed in evil. So sometimes Islamic extremists may be right. But violence is not the best of options. Let’s strive to build a better world decorated in to acceptable moral values.

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