Section 6. Discrimination and Societal Abuses
Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape and domestic violence, but both occurred frequently, and authorities rarely prosecuted perpetrators. The law does not address spousal rape or the gender of survivors. Rape is punishable by five to 20 years in prison. Survivors often declined to report crimes to police due to custom, fear of stigmatization, reprisal, and a lack of cooperation from investigating police or gendarmes. Studies indicated citizens also were reluctant to report crimes because they feared police would ask the survivor to pay for the investigation.
In domestic violence cases, authorities may file charges under general assault, which carries sentences of two to five years in prison and fines. Violence against a woman that causes an injury is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine. If the injury causes mutilation, amputation, or other loss of body parts, it is punishable by 20 years of imprisonment; if the victim dies, the crime is punishable by life imprisonment. Assault constitutes grounds for divorce under civil law, but police rarely intervened in domestic disputes, and courts rarely punished perpetrators.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): Although the Transition Charter does not explicitly prohibit FGM/C, it grants individuals the right to their physical integrity. Prior to September 5, the constitution and laws prohibited FGM/C. The country had an extremely high FGM/C prevalence rate. According to a 2018 UNICEF survey, 94.5 percent of women and girls ages 15 to 49 had undergone the procedure, which was practiced throughout the country and among all religious and ethnic groups. The rate of FGM/C for girls between the ages of six and 14 dropped six percentage points since 2015.
The law specifies imprisonment of five to 20 years and a fine if the victim is severely injured or dies; if the victim dies within 40 days of the procedure the penalty is up to life in prison or death. The law provides for imprisonment of three months to two years and fines for perpetrators who do not inflict severe injury or death. These laws were not effectively or regularly enforced. In 2019 the Conde government adopted an action plan to eliminate FGM/C (2019-23) that included integrating FGM/C modules into the curriculum of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Conakry and updating the curriculum for midwifery and social work students. During the year the Conde administration continued to cooperate with NGOs and youth organizations in their efforts to eradicate FGM/C and educate health workers, government employees, and communities on the dangers of the practice.
On October 25-26, the CNRD appointed Morissanda Kouyate, a lifelong advocate for women’s rights and the eradication of FGM/C, as minister of foreign affairs, international cooperation, African integration, and Guineans abroad.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits all forms of workplace harassment, including sexual harassment; however, the Transition Charter does not explicitly mention workplace or sexual harassment. Prior to September 5, the constitution prohibited harassment based on sex, race, ethnicity, political opinions, and other grounds. The Ministry of Labor did not document any case of sexual harassment, despite its frequency. The law penalizes sexual harassment. Sentences range from three months to two years in prison and the payment of a fine, depending on the gravity of the harassment. Authorities rarely enforced the law.
According to the Union of Guinean Workers, women working in the public sector reported professional repercussions, marginalization, and threats by superiors when they did not accept their advances.
Reproductive Rights: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities.
No law adversely affected access to contraception, but low accessibility and poor quality of family planning services as well as limited contraception choices hindered access. Cultural barriers included a lack of male partner engagement or support for a woman’s decision to use family planning services; lack of decision-making power for women, as women in many cases needed approval from their husbands before using health services, including family planning; and expectations for newlywed couples to have children. Religious beliefs also hindered access. According to the 2018 Demographic and Health Survey, modern contraceptive prevalence rate among women ages 15-49 who were married or in a relationship was 11 percent.
According to the 2018 Demographic and Health Survey, 55 percent of women gave birth with a skilled health-care professional present. Lack of quality health care and sociocultural barriers, such as preferring a female health attendant during pregnancy and childbirth, also affected women’s access to skilled health attendants when no midwives were available.
According to the 2016 UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, the maternal mortality rate was 550 per 100,000 live births. Lack of accessible, quality health services, discrimination, gender inequalities, early marriage, and adolescent pregnancy all contributed to the maternal death rate. (See the Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) subsection for additional information.) According to the UN Population Fund, the adolescent birth rate was 120 per 1,000 girls ages 15-19 years.
The government provided access to sexual and reproductive health services for survivors of sexual violence. Multisectoral committees at the national, regional, and local levels addressed gender-based violence, including sexual violence. Committee participants included health professionals, police, and administrative authorities. Health professionals provided health care, including sexual and reproductive health services, to survivors of sexual and domestic violence. Emergency contraception was available at International Planned Parenthood Federation-affiliated clinics through purchases made by the UN Population Fund. Emergency contraception was also included in gender-based violence kits.
The law does not provide for the same legal status and rights for women as for men, including in inheritance, property, employment, credit, and divorce. The law prohibits gender discrimination in hiring; the government did not effectively enforce this provision. There were no known limitations on women’s working hours, but there are legal restrictions to women’s employment in occupations and tasks deemed hazardous and in industries such as mining and construction (see section 7.d.). Traditional practices historically discriminate against women and sometimes took precedence over the law, particularly in rural areas.
Government officials acknowledged that polygyny was common. Divorce laws generally favor men in awarding custody and dividing communal assets. Legal testimony given by women carries less weight than testimony by men, in accordance with Islamic precepts and customary law.
A 2019 amendment to the law makes monogamy the standard for marriage, except in the case of an “explicit agreement” with the first wife.
The country’s population was diverse, with three main linguistic groups and several smaller ones. While the law prohibits racial or ethnic discrimination, allegations of discrimination against members of all major ethnic groups occurred in private-sector hiring. Ethnic segregation of urban neighborhoods and ethnically divisive rhetoric during political campaigns were common. The government made little effort to address these problems.
Birth Registration: Children derive citizenship by birth within the country, marriage, naturalization, or parental heritage. Authorities did not permit children without birth certificates to attend school or access health care.
Education: Government policy provides for tuition-free, compulsory primary education for all children up to age 16. While girls and boys had equal access to all levels of primary and secondary education, approximately 39 percent of girls attended primary school, compared with 52 percent of boys. Government figures indicated 13 percent of girls completed secondary school, compared with 22 percent of boys.
Child Abuse: Child abuse was a problem, and authorities and NGOs continued to document cases. Child abuse occurred openly on the street, although families ignored most cases or addressed them at the community level. Authorities rarely prosecuted offenders.
On March 11, an updated Children’s Code first adopted in 2019 entered into force. The new code provides increased penalties for offenses that expose children to violence, sexuality, the display or dissemination of obscene images, and messages not intended for children. The new code also increases penalties relating to child labor, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children, and child pornography.
The law criminalizes early and forced marriage. The legal age for marriage is 18. Ambiguity remains, however, because the law refers to customary marriages for minors who receive consent from both their parents or their legal guardian. According to women’s rights NGOs, the prevalence rate remained high.
In February, during the National Forum on Gender and Mining organized by the World Bank, one speaker revealed that women were at times forced into an illegal marriage or concubinage as a condition for obtaining employment in the artisanal mining sector. LGBTQI+ persons were regularly forced into heterosexual marriages by their families.
In 2018, according to UNICEF, 17 percent of all girls were married by age 15 and 47 percent were married by age 18.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prescribes penalties for all forms of child trafficking, including the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The law prohibits child pornography. The law does not explicitly address the sale, offering, or using of children for commercial sex. These laws were not regularly enforced, and sexual assault of children, including rape, was a serious problem. Girls between ages 11 and 15 were most vulnerable and represented more than half of all rape survivors.
Displaced Children: Although official statistics were unavailable, a large population of children lived on the streets, particularly in urban areas. Children frequently begged in mosques, on the streets, and in markets.
Institutionalized Children: The country had numerous registered and unregistered orphanages. While reports of abuse at orphanages sometimes appeared in the press, reliable statistics were not available. Authorities institutionalized some children after family members died from the Ebola virus.
International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.
The Jewish community was very small, and there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.
Persons with disabilities could in some cases access education, health services, public buildings, and transportation on an equal basis with others. The law prohibits the discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in education, employment, air travel and other transportation, access to health care, or the provision of other government services. Other elements of the law describe the rights of persons with disabilities, such as access to regular, dedicated, or subsidized private schools, government hiring quotas, priority access to government services, and access to public transportation. The government did not effectively implement the law and programs to provide access to buildings, information, and communications. The government provided some information and communication in accessible formats. Colonel Doumbouya delivered the president’s end of year speech, which for the first time was accompanied by sign language simultaneous interpretation.
The law prohibits discrimination in employment against persons with disabilities. The government estimated the population of persons with disabilities to be 155,900. The Ministry of Social Action and the Promotion of Women and Children is responsible for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, but it was ineffective. The government had informal hiring programs for the hiring of persons with disabilities. The government provided no support for placing children with disabilities in regular schools.
Laws exist to protect persons with HIV and AIDS from stigmatization. The law on reproductive health provides that persons diagnosed with AIDS or HIV receive special assistance in basic care and a guarantee of confidentiality. The government relied on donor efforts to combat discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS, and government efforts were limited to paying health-care worker salaries. Most victims of stigmatization were widows abandoned by their families after their husbands died of AIDS.
LGBTQI+ persons faced arbitrary arrest, violence, and harassment by security forces who accused them of disrupting the social order. LGBTQI+ persons reported being stigmatized by their families and, in many cases, forced into unwanted heterosexual marriages. They were also subject to sexual assault based on their sexual orientation.
The law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults, which is punishable by three years in prison; however, there were no known prosecutions during the year. The Office for the Protection of Women, Children, and Morals (OPROGEM), a part of the Ministry of Security, includes a unit for investigating morals offenses, including same-sex sexual conduct.
Deep religious and cultural taboos exist against consensual same-sex sexual conduct. Antidiscrimination laws do not apply to LGBTQI+ persons. The Transitional Charter and existing laws do not protect the rights of LGBTQI+ persons. The Transitional Charter describes marriage and the traditional family unit as the foundation of the country’s society. LGBTQI+ persons were subject to employment and housing discrimination. There were no official or NGO reports of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, although societal stigma likely prevented survivors from reporting abuse or harassment. There were no publicly active LGBTQI+ organizations, although some public health organizations worked to raise sexual health and HIV and AIDS awareness, as well as prevent human rights abuses among vulnerable communities, including the LGBTQI+ community. An association supported by the National AIDS Control Committee and the Global Fund Works provided educational awareness on AIDS prevention and safe sexual practices and antiretroviral treatment distribution, and it advocated for the rights of vulnerable populations, including members of the LGBTQI+ community who continued to hide their status.
Discrimination against persons with albinism occurred, particularly in the Forested Guinea Region, where historically persons with albinism were sought for ritual sacrifice and other harmful practices related to witchcraft. Albino rights NGOs continued to raise awareness of discrimination and violence against persons with albinism. On May 18, the Law on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of People with Albinism entered into force. The law affords persons with albinism equal rights to access education, health care, mobility, and employment. The law also strengthens penalties for those who encourage persons with albinism to beg and who seek to use persons with albinism in ritual ceremonies.
Due to a lack of trust and capacity in the local judicial system, mob violence remained a widespread problem and was reported in the local press throughout the year.
In June a man suspected of stealing a motorcycle in Kindia, Lower Guinea, was beaten and burned alive by a group of young men.
In August a man accused of theft and attempted murder was dragged out of a gendarmerie station in Mandiana, Upper Guinea, and stoned to death. Press reports alleged that the purported thief stabbed a man while attempting to steal the victim’s metal detector.