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Cameroonian Activists Celebrate End to Toy Weapon Gifts

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Cameroonian rights groups and activists are gratified that for the first time since 2016, parents no longer give children and teenagers toy guns as gifts during end-of-year feasts.

In 2016, rights groups launched a campaign to ban toy guns, mostly imported from China, saying they lead to violence. 

Instead, an educational toy such as an electronic workbook can help children learn the alphabet and words, not glorify violence. Such gifts have replaced toys like guns, knives and military vehicles that were in high demand and frequently given to children.

During Cameroon’s Anglophone separatist crisis and Boko Haram terrorism on the northern border with Nigeria, the rights groups began urging parents not to buy children toy guns.

Activist and gender expert Irene Chinje said toy guns normalize violence.

“Children do not know the difference between it being a toy gun and the significance it carries,” she said. “They just see it as a sign of bravery for them, and so if they can handle the toy gun, then they are encouraged in the future to handle the real weapon with bullets.”

Chinje and other activists have been visiting markets to express their appreciation to Cameroonians for not buying toy guns.

The start of a new year always is widely celebrated in Cameroon, with Christians, Muslims and animists sharing gifts and exchanging visits.

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