Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived by birth within the country and from one’s parents. Child registration does not occur automatically at hospitals. Parents must register their child’s birth with a notary. The government conducts yearly campaigns to register children in the countryside. UNICEF data from 2000-09 estimated 39 percent of children were registered before the age of five. Lack of registration resulted in the denial of education at schools above secondary level, since school registration requires a birth certificate. However, this requirement was often waived for children in primary schools.
Education: In March the National Assembly passed a law increasing compulsory attendance from the sixth grade to the ninth grade and lowering the enrollment age from seven years to six. The enrollment rate in primary schools was 65.4 percent for girls and 69.3 percent for boys, but Islamic schools banned girls from attending. Children often were required to help their families in the fields, which conflicted with schooling.
Child Abuse: Violence against children was widespread, but it was seldom reported to the authorities.
During the year a teacher, Maria Filomena Ribeiro, was accused of imprisoning her eight-year-old daughter in her home with ropes and a padlock. Local NGO Association of the Friends of Children (AMIC) denounced the incident as “inhuman.” Judicial Police opened an official investigation but did not file charges as of year’s end.
In 2010 an 85-year-old man in Gabu was charged with sexually abusing and impregnating two of his granddaughters, ages 15 and 16. His trial had not begun by year’s end.
Harmful Traditional Practices: Certain ethnic groups, especially the Fulas and the Mandinkas, practiced FGM, not only on adolescent girls but also on babies as young as four months. According to a local NGO, more than 350,000 girls and women in the country were victims of FGM. UNICEF data from 1997-2009 indicate 45 percent of women and girls were victimized.
On June 6, the National Assembly passed a law prohibiting FGM, which calls for violators to be punished with a fine of up to five million CFA francs ($9,000) and five years in prison. The law was published and went into effect on July 6. In November, Ne di Ture was charged with performing FGM on a three-year-old girl. At year’s end, she was awaiting trial.
Child Marriage: Child marriage occurred among all ethnic groups, but no reliable data existed. Girls who fled arranged marriages often became trafficked into commercial sex. The buying and selling of child brides also reportedly occurred. Local NGOs worked to protect the rights of women and children and operated programs to fight child marriage and protect its victims. Observers claimed that NGO efforts to enroll more girls in school increased child marriages: More girls were forced to marry at a younger age because parents feared the social opportunities of school would increase the risk of their daughters losing their virginity before marriage.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: There are no explicit penalties for child prostitution, but there is a statutory rape law prohibiting sex with a person less than 16 years old. The rape law carries a penalty of two to six years in prison. There is no law against child pornography.
Displaced Children: The Child Protection Office of the Bissau Police Department estimated that 1,000 children were living on the streets of Bissau, with a growing number of boys engaged in gangs and petty crime. The government provided no services to street children.
International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.