Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived either by birth within the country’s territory or through a parent. Many births are not registered immediately, particularly in rural areas where administrative structures are insufficient, geographically distant, and rural parents do not know such registration is required. Lack of registration sometimes resulted in denial of public services and inability to register for school. To address the problem, the government periodically organized registration drives and issued belated birth certificates.
Education: The law calls for compulsory, tuition-free, and universal education until the age of 16. The government paid tuition, books, and supplies for all students under 16 years of age, although uniforms were the responsibility of the student’s family. Children over 16 years of age were responsible for paying all education costs, unless they qualified for tuition assistance from merit-and need-based programs. The overall primary, school enrollment was approximately 78 percent for boys and 71 percent for girls.
Child Abuse: The law prohibits the abuse of children under 15 and provides for the punishment of abusers. The penal code mandates a one-to three-year prison sentence and fines ranging from 300,000 to 900,000 CFA francs ($601 to $1,805) for inhumane treatment or mistreatment of children; however, light corporal punishment was tolerated and widely practiced in society, although the government conducted seminars and education campaigns against child abuse.
In September, 29 year-old Boukary Sawadogo was convicted and sentenced to three years in jail for public indecency and sexually abusing a minor.
On September 13, the Ministry of Social Action and National Solidarity launched a toll-free number enabling people to anonymously report cases of violence against children. During the year the ministry equipped two care centers in Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso for child victims.
Child Marriage: Several NGOs stated that child marriage was a problem. In rural areas, the Population Council estimated that, in 2009, 62 percent of girls and women aged between 20 and 24 were married by the age of 18. In the Sahel region, 19 percent of girls are married before 15. According to the law, the legal age for marriage is 17 for women and 20 for men. The law prohibits forced marriage and prescribes penalties of six months to two years in prison for violation. The prison term may be increased to three years, if the victim is less than 13 years of age; however, there were no reports during the year of prosecutions of violators. Many NGOs worked with traditional leaders and village elders to halt this practice. From 2008 to 2010, the government carried out a project called “Getting rid of early marriages in Burkina Faso: a plan for protection, accountability and community’s intervention.” The project aimed at fighting early marriage by strengthening young girls’ skills and their civil rights knowledge.
Harmful Traditional Practices: Female genital mutilation (FGM) was practiced, especially in rural areas, despite being illegal, and usually was performed at an early age. Although there are no accurate and recent figures on FGM, the National Committee for the Fight Against Excision (CNLPE) believes that the practice has decreased significantly in recent years. In 2008 the committee reported that 249 girls had undergone FGM, but this number should take into consideration the fact that some parents take their child to neighboring countries, such as Mali, where the practice of FGM is legal. Perpetrators are subject to a significant fine of 150,000 to 900,000 CFA (between $301 and $1,811), and imprisonment of six months to three years, or up to 10 years if the victim dies. During the year security forces and social workers from the Ministry of Social Action and National Solidarity arrested several FGM practitioners and their accomplices. In accordance with the law, they were sentenced to prison terms. On September 16, the Bobo-Dioulasso High Court sentenced Daouda Konate to three years in jail and a fine for perpetrating FGM on four girls under the age of three. It was the first time that a man was convicted of FGM.
Burkina Faso’s First Lady Chantal Compaore is the honorary president of the CNLPE and is actively involved in the fight against FGM. On February 28, she chaired a roundtable at the UN headquarters entitled: “International Campaign for a United Nations General Assembly Resolution to Ban FGM Worldwide”.
The government, through the Regional Committees to Combat Excision, continued to work with local populations to address FGM. These regional committees (presided over by government-appointed high commissioners) brought together representatives of the Ministries of Social Action, Basic Education, Secondary and Superior Education, Women's Rights, Justice, Health, the police and gendarmerie, and local and religious leaders; they actively campaigned against the practice.
The government continued its national action plan, a “Zero Tolerance to FGM” that aimed to reduce the practice of FGM by at least 30 percent by year 2013. Towards that end during the year the government conducted awareness campaigns, trainings, and identification and support programs for victims of this practice.
In September the Network of Burkina Faso Islamic Organizations organized a national conference to raise awareness and fight against FGM. They explained that despite popular belief, FGM is not a Muslim tradition.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: There were no statistics on child prostitution; however, government services and human rights associations believed it was a problem. Children from poor families relied on prostitution to meet their daily needs and, at times, to help their needy parents. Trafficked children, primarily Nigerian nationals, were also subject to sexual abuse and forced prostitution.
Infanticide: The law prohibits female infanticide, and there were no reports of such cases. Newspapers reported cases of abandonment of newborn babies following unwanted pregnancies.
Displaced Children: There were numerous street children, primarily in Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso. Many children ended up on the streets after traveling from rural areas to find employment in the city, after their parents sent them to the city to study with an unregistered Qur’an teacher, or to live with relatives and go to school. According to a 2010 report by the Ministry of Social Action and National Solidarity, there were 5,721 street children in Burkina Faso among which 2,308 children were enrolled in unregistered Qur’anic schools. Several NGOs assisted street children. Two directorates within the Ministry of Social Action and National Solidarity also ran educational programs, including vocational training, for street children; funded income-generating activities; and assisted in the reintegration and rehabilitation of street children. Nevertheless, the number of street children far outstripped the capacity of these institutions.
On September 10, the Regional Direction of Social Action and National Solidarity in the Cascades region (in the west) organized a workshop with members of the Muslim community, Qur’anic teachers, police, gendarmerie and social workers. They worked with and educated members of the Muslim community and discussed solutions to end the phenomenon of street children, particularly child-beggars in Qur’anic schools.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For information see the Department of State’s report on compliance at http://travel.state.gov/abduction/resources/congressreport/congressreport_4308.htm as well as country-specific information at http://travel.state.gov/abduction/country/country_3781.html.