Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived either by birth within the country’s territory or through a parent. Many births were not registered immediately, particularly in rural areas where registration facilities were few, and parents were often unaware of the requirement to register. Lack of registration sometimes resulted in denial of public services, including access to school. To address the problem, the government periodically organized registration drives and issued belated birth certificates. In 2012 the Ministry of Women’s Promotion launched the “one woman, one birth certificate” campaign to provide two million women and girls with birth certificates by the end of 2013.
Education: The law calls for compulsory, tuition-free, and universal education until age 16. Although not fully implemented, government policy is to pay for tuition, books, and supplies for all students under 16 years of age, although uniforms are the responsibility of the student’s family. Children over the age of 16 or their families are responsible for paying all education costs, unless they qualify for tuition assistance based on merit or need. The overall primary school enrollment rate was approximately 81 percent for boys and 78 percent for girls.
Child Abuse: The law prohibits the abuse of children under the age of 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 ($620 to $1,860) for inhumane treatment or mistreatment of children. Nevertheless, light corporal punishment was tolerated and widely practiced. The government conducted seminars and education campaigns against child abuse.
In 2011 the Ministry of Social Action and National Solidarity introduced a toll-free number to enable people to anonymously report cases of violence against children. As of December 2012, authorities recorded more than 1,483 calls, which resulted in 759 police interventions.
Forced and Early Marriage: The legal age for marriage is 17 for women and 20 for men, but child marriage was a problem. Almost 50 percent of women were married before the age of 18. According to a 2010 government survey, 23.5 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 19 were married. The law prohibits forced marriage and prescribes penalties of six months to two years in prison for violators (and a three-year prison term if the victim is under the age of 13). There were no reports of prosecutions during the year. A government toll-free number allowed citizens to report forced marriages. During the year the government, in partnership with the UN, launched a program to combat early marriage in poorer rural areas where the practice was particularly widespread. Many NGOs worked with traditional leaders and village elders to halt the practice.
Harmful Traditional Practices: The law prohibits FGM/C, but it was practiced widely, particularly in rural areas, and usually performed at an early age. Although there were no accurate or recent figures, the National Committee for the Fight against Excision (CNLPE) claimed the practice decreased significantly in recent years. Nevertheless, 76 percent of women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 and 13 percent of girls under the age of 15 reported being circumcised. Perpetrators, if convicted, were subject to a fine of 150,000 to 900,000 CFA francs ($310 to $1,860) and imprisonment of six months to three years, or up to 10 years if the victim died.
During the year security forces and social workers from the Ministry of Social Action and National Solidarity arrested several FGM/C perpetrators and their accomplices, all of whom were serving jail sentences at year’s end. For example, on April 12, the gendarmerie of Liptougou arrested 60-year- old Hassetou Lydo, who on April 2 perpetrated FGM/C on 30 girls between the ages of two and six. According to the Ministry of Social Action and National Solidarity, 148 girls underwent FGM/C between January and September, of whom one died. During the same period, six FGM/C perpetrators were sentenced to three to six months in jail and fined ranging from 200,000 CFA francs ($410) to 300,000 CFA francs ($620).
The government’s national action plan, “zero tolerance of FGM/C,” aimed to reduce the practice of FGM/C by at least 30 percent by the end of the year. The government conducted awareness campaigns, training, and identification of and support programs for FGM/C victims. The government also operated a toll-free number to report cases of FGM/C. Chantal Compaore, the country’s first lady and honorary president of the CNLPE, was actively involved in the fight against FGM/C. The government, through the Regional Committees to Combat Excision, continued to campaign with local populations against FGM/C. The regional committees included representatives of numerous government ministries, police, gendarmerie, and local and religious leaders. The Network for Human Rights and the Ministries of Justice, Defense, and Security raised awareness among lawyers, judges, and police about the effects of FGM/C. The government also integrated FGM/C prevention in prenatal, neonatal, and immunization services at 35 percent of public health facilities.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law provides penalties of between 10 and 20 years’ imprisonment for individuals engaging in the commercial sexual exploitation of children under the age of 15. The minimum age of consensual sex is 15. The law also prohibits child pornography. There were no statistics on child prostitution, but government services and human rights associations believed it was a problem. Children from poor families were particularly vulnerable to prostitution. Trafficked children, primarily Nigerian nationals, also were subject to sexual abuse and forced prostitution.
Infanticide: The law prohibits female infanticide, but it occurred. On May 30, for example, a 20-year-old woman in Bobo-Dioulasso abandoned her newborn baby in the trash. She was subsequently arrested and referred to the prosecutor. Nine babies were found abandoned between February and June in Bobo-Dioulasso.
Displaced Children: There were numerous street children, primarily in Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso. Many children ended up on the streets after their parents sent them to the city to study with an unregistered Quranic 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 the country, of whom 2,308 were enrolled in unregistered Quranic schools. Several NGOs assisted street children. Two directorates of 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 outstripped the capacity of these institutions.
In 2012 the government conducted an awareness campaign for approximately 1,000 street children on the dangers of drug use. It also started implementing a project designed to help locate the families of street children and return them to their families.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For country-specific information see http://www.travel.state.gov/abduction/country/country_5796.html.