Gladys Ngwepekeum Nkeh is a United Nations police officer (UNPOL) working with local communities in Bangui, Central African Republic. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Gladys Ngwepekeum Nkeh is a United Nations police officer (UNPOL) from Cameroon, one of some 12,870 uniformed personnel working with the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic.
Earlier this year, the officer and her team went to a school – Ecole des 136 villas – in Bangui looking for Ashley, a young girl who she found out from community leaders had been raped and became pregnant.
“She was so very sad,” Gladys told UN News. That day would be a turning point for Ashley, for Gladys, and for hundreds of girls who attend the school.
Gladys was deployed to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) eight months ago as a gender officer.
Every day, Gladys collaborates with the national police in the capital, Bangui, at the police station for the First District. She monitors the work of the national police, ensuring that the basic human rights of detainees are respected, and that international professional standards are met.
She also meets regularly with community members in central Bangui, talking to local leaders and traditional chiefs to promote gender rights.
By meeting with community members, Gladys learned about Ashley Bongo Passi, a 13-year-old girl who was raped and became pregnant as a result. Gladys supported Ashley, and her 25-year-old mother, by sending Ashley to the non-governmental organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, for medical aid.
Gladys also worked to identify the rapist and arrest him, while also providing Ashley with support for clothes and baby formula for her six-week-old baby. Ashley was able to go back to school, and she named her baby Gladys, in tribute to the UN police officer who supported her. Gladys continues to help with Ashley’s school fees.
In addition to her regular duties, Gladys and her UNPOL colleagues provide classes at Ashley’s school, Ecole des 136 villas, on sexual education and preventing gender-based violence. The students are from the last elementary class (CM2) at the school, which has over 2,700 students.