Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived either from birth within the country’s borders or from the parents.
Approximately 50 percent of children were registered at birth, but the percentage was lower in rural areas far removed from government offices. The main obstacles were the cost and difficulty of registering births for rural families far from government offices.
Education: School attendance is compulsory for both boys and girls until the age of 15, and the government provides tuition-free public education from nursery through primary school; however, parents must pay for books, supplies, uniforms, and other expenses. Primary school education ends between the ages of 11 and 13. There was near gender parity in attendance at the primary school level, and in general girls and boys were treated the same. Girls were more likely than boys to complete primary school but less likely to attend secondary school.
Child Abuse: Child abuse was a widespread problem. Although it explicitly prohibits sexual exploitation of children and child prostitution, the law was not effectively enforced. There was no statutory rape law. The government continued to work with local NGOs on public awareness campaigns to prevent exploitation of children.
The government maintained a toll-free line for persons to report cases of child abuse and to seek help. The service provides information on the rights of the child and legal procedures and access to social workers who may intervene in emergencies. The government also established school curricula to educate children on human rights and, working with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), trained teachers on children’s rights.
Forced and Early Marriage: The legal age for marriage is 18, although with parental permission it is 16. Of women ages 20-24, 25 percent reportedly were married or in a union before the age of 18. The practice significantly declined in recent years. Rates were highest in the Savannah Region at 61 percent, followed by the Plateau Region at 37 percent, Kara Region at 36 percent, Central Region at 31 percent, and the Maritime Region at 29 percent.
The government engaged in a range of actions to prevent early marriage, particularly raising awareness among community and religious leaders. Multiple initiatives focused on helping girls stay in school. Messages broadcast through mass media, particularly local radio, stressed avoiding early marriage and the importance of educating girls.
Harmful Traditional Practices: The law prohibits FGM/C which, according to UNICEF, was performed on approximately 4 percent of women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49, including 1 percent of girls in the 15-to-19 age group. Penalties for perpetrators of FGM/C range from two months to five years in prison as well as substantial fines. The law, however, was rarely enforced because most FGM/C cases occurred in rural areas where awareness of the law was limited. The most common form of FGM/C was excision, which was usually performed on girls a few months after birth. Most of the larger ethnic groups did not practice FGM/C, and others were abandoning it. The practice was most common in isolated Muslim communities in the sparsely populated Central Region. Traditional customs often took precedence over the legal system among certain ethnic groups. The government continued to sponsor educational seminars on FGM/C. Several NGOs, with international assistance, organized campaigns to educate women on their rights and on how to care for victims of FGM/C. NGOs also worked to create alternative labor opportunities for former FGM/C perpetrators.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the sexual exploitation of children and provides penalties of between one and five years’ imprisonment and fines from 100,000 to one million CFA francs ($200 to $2,000) for offenders. For violations involving children under 15, prison sentences may be up to 10 years. The minimum age of consensual sex is 16.
The law prohibits child pornography and provides for penalties of five to 10 years in prison. Minors were subjected to prostitution. During the year the government began a survey and assessment of reports of child-sex tourism as part of its effort to address the problem.
International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.