Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape and provides for prison terms of five to 20 years for perpetrators. A life sentence can be imposed in cases of gang rape if the rapists are related to or hold positions of authority over the victim, or if the victim is under 15 years of age. The law does not specifically penalize spousal rape. The government made some efforts to enforce the law, but local and international human rights groups reported that rape remained widespread. UNOCI reported hundreds of rape cases during the year, including a number of gang-rape cases. For example, in June a woman in Bouake suffered serious injuries when she was raped and sodomized by a man in the presence of two accomplices. She filed a complaint with the local police, but no arrests were made.
Relatives, police, and traditional leaders often pressured female victims to seek an amicable resolution with the rapist rather than pursue a criminal case. In November UNOCI released a report indicating an estimated 60 percent of sexual violence incidents were resolved amicably without involvement of the formal justice system.
Rape victims were no longer required to obtain a medical certificate (which can cost up to 50,000 CFA francs ($94) to move a legal complaint forward). As a practical matter, however, cases rarely proceeded without one since it often served as the primary form of evidence. In September the trial court in Bouake sentenced a man to a five-year prison term for rape.
The law does not specifically outlaw domestic violence, which was a serious and widespread problem. Victims seldom reported domestic violence due to cultural barriers. Police often ignored women who reported rape or domestic violence. Many victims’ families reportedly urged victims to withdraw complaints and remain with an abusive partner due to fear of social stigmatization.
The Ministry of Family, Women, and Social Affairs assisted some victims of domestic violence and rape, including counseling at government-operated centers. The National Committee to Fight Violence against Women and Children monitored abusive situations and made weekly radio announcements about hotlines for victims.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law specifically forbids FGM/C and provides penalties for practitioners of up to five years’ imprisonment and fines of 360,000 to two million CFA francs ($679 to $3,774). Double penalties apply to medical practitioners. There were no reports during the year of FGM/C performed on adult women.
Other Harmful Traditional Practices: Societal violence against women included traditional practices, such as dowry deaths (the killing of brides over dowry disputes), levirate (forcing a widow to marry her dead husband’s brother), and sororate (forcing a woman to marry her dead sister’s husband).
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment and prescribes penalties of between one and three years of imprisonment and fines of 360,000 to one million CFA francs ($679 to $1,887). Nevertheless, the government rarely enforced the law, and harassment was reportedly widespread and routinely accepted.
Reproductive Rights: The law provides couples and individuals the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children, but it does not explicitly address the right to attain the highest standard of reproductive health free from coercion, discrimination, and violence. Government policy requires emergency health-care services to be available and free to all. Family planning indicators remained low, and the government’s ability to deliver high quality maternal and reproductive health service was weak. The Demographic Health Survey estimated the maternal mortality rate in 2012 to be 614 per 100,000 live births, an increase from 543 in 2005. Skilled health personnel attended 59 percent of births. Only 14 percent of girls and women between ages 15 and 49 used a modern method of contraception. Unmet needs for family planning were at 27 percent nationally and above 30 percent for the poorest women. Thirty percent of adolescent girls had been or were currently pregnant when surveyed, a percentage that rose to 46 percent for adolescents in rural areas. Threats or perceived threats of violence from husbands or family members inhibited some women from seeking family planning or health services. In urban areas access to contraception and skilled attendance during childbirth were available to women who could afford them. For women who were poor or lived in rural areas, transportation and the cost of services posed significant barriers to accessing health centers and hospitals. These factors, along with a 4.6 percent HIV/AIDS prevalence rate among girls and women ages 15 to 49, resulted in a high maternal mortality rate.
Discrimination: The law prohibits discrimination based on gender, and the government encouraged full participation by women in social and economic life (see section 7.d.). Some women had trouble obtaining loans because they could not meet lending criteria, including requirements for posting expensive household assets as collateral, which may not have a woman listed on the title. Women also experienced economic discrimination in owning or managing businesses.
Women’s organizations continued to campaign for tax reform to enable single mothers to receive deductions for their children. Inheritance law also discriminates against women.
Women’s advocacy organizations continued to sponsor campaigns against forced marriage, patterns of inheritance that excluded women, and other practices considered harmful to women and girls. They also campaigned against legal provisions that discriminated against women and continued their efforts to promote greater women’s participation in national and local politics.