Rape and Domestic Violence: In 2015 the government passed the Law on the Prevention and Repression of Violence Against Women and Girls and Support for Victims. Conviction of rape is punishable by five to 10 years’ imprisonment, but the 2015 law includes fines of 100,000 to 500,000 CFA francs ($183 to $919). According to human rights NGOs, rape occurred frequently. Although authorities prosecuted rape cases during the year, no statistics were available on the number of cases reported or prosecuted.
Domestic violence against women occurred frequently, primarily in rural areas. For example, a man raped a 14-year-old girl on July 31 in Bittou, Center-East Region. Local media reported the girl was taken to a health center for medical examination and the perpetrator was released after his arrest by the local police.
Victims seldom pursued legal action due to shame, fear, or reluctance to take their spouses to court. For the few cases that went to court, the Ministry of Justice, Human Rights, and Civic Promotion could provide no statistics on prosecutions, convictions, or punishment. A government-run shelter for women and girls who were victims of gender-based violence was set up in 2015 and welcomed victims regardless of nationality. In Ouagadougou the Ministry of Women, National Solidarity, and Family assisted victims of domestic violence at four centers. The ministry sometimes provided counseling and housing for abused women.
The ministry has a legal affairs section to educate women on their rights, and several NGOs cooperated to protect women’s rights. To raise awareness of gender discrimination and reduce gender inequalities, the ministry organized numerous workshops and several awareness campaigns mainly in the North, Sahel, East, and Center-West Regions.
The law makes conviction of “abduction to impose marriage or union without consent” punishable by six months to five years in jail. Conviction of sexual abuse or torture or conviction of sexual slavery is punishable by two to five years in prison. Conviction of the foregoing abuses may also carry fines of 500,000 to one million CFA francs ($919 to $1,838).
The law requires police to provide for protection of the victim and her minor children and mandates the establishment of chambers in the High Court with exclusive jurisdiction over cases of violence against women and girls. The law requires all police and gendarmerie units to designate officers to assist female victims of violence--or those threatened by violence--and to respond to emergencies; however, some units had not complied by year’s end. It also mandates the creation of care and protection centers in each commune for female victims of violence and a government support fund for their care. The centers receive victims on an emergency basis, offer them security, provide support services (including medical and psychosocial support), and, when possible, refer the victims to court.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C, but it was practiced widely in rural areas, and at an early age. Perpetrators, if convicted, are subject to a fine of 150,000 to 900,000 CFA francs ($278 to $1,654) and imprisonment of six months to three years, or up to 10 years if the victim dies.
Security force members and social workers from the Ministry of Women, National Solidarity, and Family arrested four perpetrators in Orodara, Bobo Dioulasso, Tenkodogo, and Leo between January 4 and February 16. Two of them were tried and convicted, one was awaiting trial as of September 5, and one was at large. Twenty-nine accomplices were also sentenced to pay fines or given suspended fines. Of the 49 cases of FGM/C recorded during the year, there was only one case in which the victim was more than 30 years old. For the remaining cases, the victims’ age range from 30 months to 15 years.
For example, in April, an 89-year-old woman age from Sissili Province, described as a professional practitioner of FGM/C, was sentenced by an open court to 12 months in prison and a fine of 500,000 CFA francs ($920). She was accused of performing FGM/C on her six-year-old granddaughter on February 21.
The government also integrated FGM/C prevention in prenatal, neonatal, and immunization services at 35 percent of public health facilities. Government measures taken during the year to combat FGM/C included: the establishment of mobile courts in Tuy Province to try persons accused of FGM/C; creation of a public education Facebook page; distribution to public and private health centers of 322 treatment kits; training 164 Ministry of Education and Literacy officials on ending FGM/C; establishing five high school social networks to address FGM/C in Houet, Kadiogo, and Sanmatenga Provinces; and holding an international day of “zero tolerance for FGM/C.” The Ministry of Women, National Solidarity, and Family conducted 3,016 awareness activities, including educational and communication campaigns for the local population in rural areas, traditional leaders, and local elected representatives. Approximately 107,350 persons benefited from these activities.
The ministry also trained 60 police officers and 60 gendarmes in efforts to prevent FGM/C.
For more information, see data.unicef.org/resources/female-genital-mutilation-cutting-country-profiles/.
Other Harmful Traditional Practices: The law makes the conviction of physical or moral abuse of women or girls accused of witchcraft punishable by one to five years in prison and/or a fine of 300,000 to 1.5 million CFA francs ($551 to $2,757). Elderly women, and less frequently men, without support, living primarily in rural areas, and often widowed in the case of women, were sometimes accused of witchcraft by their neighbors and subsequently banned from their villages, beaten, or killed. Actions taken by the government to protect elderly persons accused of witchcraft included financial support and the organization of an International Women’s Day advocacy event on March 8, The Moral Value of the Human Being: Responsibility of the Communities in Combatting the Social Exclusion of Women.
Sexual Harassment: The law provides for sentences of three months to one year in prison and a fine of 300,000 to 500,000 CFA francs ($551 to $919) for conviction of sexual harassment; the maximum penalty applies if the perpetrator is a relative, in a position of authority, or if the victim is “vulnerable.” The government was ineffective in enforcing the law.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/.
Discrimination: Although the law generally provides the same legal status and rights for women as for men--including under family, labor, property, and inheritance laws--discrimination frequently occurred. Labor laws provide that all workers--men and women alike--should receive equal pay for equal working conditions, qualifications, and performance. Women nevertheless generally received lower pay for equal work, had less education, and owned less property.
Although the law provides equal property and inheritance rights for women and men, land tenure practices emphasized family and communal land requirements more than individual ownership rights. As a result, authorities often denied women the right to own property, particularly real estate. Many citizens, particularly in rural areas, held to traditional beliefs that did not recognize inheritance rights for women and regarded a woman as property that could be inherited upon her husband’s death.
The government conducted media campaigns to change attitudes toward women. It sponsored a number of community outreach efforts and awareness campaigns to promote women’s rights.