Details are emerging of the terrible experiences of a teenage girl in Cameroon whom – upon feeling attraction towards other girls – admitted to being ‘bewitched’ and underwent an horrendous ordeal as a result.

The girl – known as Viviane – lived in Yaounde, Cameron’s capital. It is drilled into young people in Cameroon that homosexuality is sinful, and that any feelings of attraction to your own sex is a symptom of being cursed by malevolent black magic forces.

“I didn’t see girls like everyone else – I though it was a bad spirit that had invaded me,” admitted Viviane when talking to a news agency. “So I started praying to make it go away.”

‘Corrective’ processes for gay people are common in Cameroon

When the prayers didn’t help, Viviane confided in her family – whom reacted by forcibly marrying her to a local man. As part of the ‘corrective’ process Viviane was chained to a wall and her unwanted husband would regularly force himself upon her.

Cameroonians are taught that there are two reasons for homosexuality – a black magic bewitchment or mental illness. In the case of the former, those suffering from a spiritual curse are subjected to ‘corrective’ procedures which usually involves having heterosexual sexual practices forced upon them.

Belief that homosexuality is caused by ‘black magic’ is rife across the country

In the case of the latter, people often take the law into their own hands, rooting out gay people and torturing them. In a few cases when the corrective action does not seem to be working, murder is the next and final step in the process.

Homosexuality is illegal in Cameroon, and anyone found indulging in any kind of same-sex relationship – even if it not sexual – can be imprisoned for up to five years. In 2012 a man named Jean-Claude Roger Mbede was sentenced to three years in prison for texting “I’m very much in love w/u” to another man. Mbede died in 2014 at the age of thirty-four after suffering from malnutrition while incarcerated.

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