Folk Beliefs

Unfaithful Women in Cameroon

Many women and children wear wraps around their waist—kind of like when people tie towels around their waste, but we call it a “wrappa”—and if a woman’s wrappa falls off in public she has believed to have committed adultery. I’m not sure where the origin of this was, but I guess they thought that if your rappa was loose enough to fall off, then you’re a whore or a prostitute because you need to get it on and off easily. In the times that this belief was serious, the woman as usually stoned in the middle of the village—stoned to death—or was just shamed into leaving the actual village, so this offense is very serious because I come from a polygamous area, and adultery is seen as the most humiliating thing you can do to your husband and his other wives and their whole family.

 

 

Polygamy is not something that American’s understand very well. We are a monogamous culture. However, like in this village in Cameroon, adultery is taken very seriously here. Not only does it violate religious code but it violates moral code as well. As opposed to in Cameroon, women in the United States are not physically abused for their transgressions. However, it does seem more socially acceptable for an American man to be unfaithful to his wife. While women have gained much more equality over the years, there still remains this male-dominant atmosphere that stigmatizes women being unfaithful—men can do it, but a woman is called a whore if she is unfaithful.

 

I find this belief to be quite ridiculous. Just because a piece of clothing fits loosely on a women does not mean that she is more sexually “devious” than the women who wraps herself up tightly in her clothing. Say the weather is unbearably hot: why would anyone want to wear anything that fits tightly around his or her body? I find it incredibly stupid that this is this becomes something by which people can judge women and accuse them of being unscrupulous or immoral.

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