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.
Birth Registration: Citizenship derives either by birth within the country’s territory or through a parent. Parents generally did not register many births immediately; 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. (For data, see UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey.)
Child Abuse: Authorities tolerated light corporal punishment, and parents widely practiced it. The government conducted seminars and education campaigns against child abuse. The penal code mandates a one- to three-year prison sentence and fines ranging from 300,000 to 900,000 CFA francs ($551 to $1,654) for conviction of inhuman treatment or mistreatment of children.
The government did not effectively enforce the law. None of the calls to report violence against children, which led to intervention of security force members, resulted in an arrest or prosecution.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal age for marriage is 17 for girls and 20 for boys, but early and forced marriage was a problem. 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 age 13. There were no reports of prosecutions during the year. A government toll-free number allowed citizens to report forced marriages.
The Ministry of Women, National Solidarity, and Family conducted information sessions for 120 teenagers from the provinces with the highest child marriage rates, including Comoe, Leraba, Kossi, and Souro, as well as advocacy sessions on child marriage by bringing together approximately 300 community leaders. The ministry also paid the school fees for 600 girls and supported the socio-professional training of 500 young persons at risk of early and forced marriage.
According to media reports, the traditional practice persisted of kidnapping, raping, and impregnating a virgin minor girl and then forcing her family to consent to her marriage to her violator. (For data, see the UNICEF website.)
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law provides penalties for conviction of child prostitution or child pornography of five to 10 years’ imprisonment, a fine of 1.5 to three million CFA francs ($2,750 to $5,500), or both. The minimum age of consensual sex is 15. In 2014 the National Assembly enacted a law criminalizing the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography. Children from poor families were particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking.
Infanticide or Infanticide of Children with Disabilities: The law provides for a sentence of 10 years’ to life imprisonment for infanticide. Newspapers reported several cases of abandonment of newborn babies.
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. Government action to contain the increase in children living on the streets and to achieve their social reintegration included education campaigns for Quranic teachers in Nouna, Tougan, Dori, and Po.
International Child Abductions: The country is 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 travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
There was no known Jewish community. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities, but the government did not effectively enforce these provisions. There is legislation to provide persons with disabilities less costly or free health care and access to education and employment. The law also includes building codes to provide for access to government buildings. Authorities did not implement all of these measures effectively.
Persons with disabilities encountered discrimination and reported difficulty finding employment, including in government service.
The government had limited programs to aid persons with disabilities, but NGOs and the National Committee for the Reintegration of Persons with Disabilities conducted awareness campaigns and implemented integration programs.
The government continued to arrange for candidates with vision disabilities to take the public administration recruitment exams by providing the tests in Braille. Additionally, authorities opened specific counters at enrollment sites to allow persons with disabilities to register more easily for public service admission tests.
In an attempt to better provide for youths with disabilities and advance women’s economic empowerment, the government provided loans at zero percent interest to help women and youth carry out economic activities. The Ministry of Women, National Solidarity, and Family also provided agricultural assistance to 500 women with disabilities living in rural areas to help them strengthen their agricultural production activities. Finally, the government organized a special session to recruit 41 persons with disabilities into the public service after providing them with vocational training.
Longstanding conflicts between Fulani herders and sedentary farmers of other ethnic groups sometimes resulted in violence. Herders commonly triggered incidents by allowing their cattle to graze on farmlands or farmers attempting to cultivate land set aside by local authorities for grazing. Government efforts at dialogue and mediation contributed to a decrease in such incidents.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Societal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons was a problem and was exacerbated by religious and traditional beliefs. LGBTI individuals were occasionally victims of verbal and physical abuse, according to LGBTI support groups. There were no reports the government responded to societal violence and discrimination against LGBTI persons.
The country has no hate crime laws or other criminal justice mechanisms to aid in the investigation, prosecution, or sentencing of bias-motivated crimes against the LGBTI community.
LGBTI organizations had no legal status in the country but existed unofficially. The Ministry of Territorial Administration, Decentralization, and Internal Security did not approve repeated requests by LGBTI organizations to register, and it provided no explanation for the refusals. There were no reports of government or societal violence against such organizations, although incidents were not always reported due to stigma or intimidation.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Societal discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS was a problem, and persons who tested positive were sometimes shunned by their families. Families sometimes evicted HIV-positive wives from their homes, although families did not evict their HIV-positive husbands. Some property owners refused to rent lodgings to persons with HIV/AIDS. The government distributed free antiretroviral medication to some HIV-positive persons who qualified according to national guidelines.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
Vigilante groups across the country operated detention facilities. Media reported cases of torture and killing that took place in these facilities. For example, on January 6, a suspected thief named Bindi Kouldiaty died in Diapaga (East Region) after being tortured by local vigilante members in December 2016. Also, on March 28, a suspected thief was found dead in Pama (Kompienga Province) after being tortured by local vigilantes for 48 hours. Authorities did not arrest or charge the perpetrators in the majority of cases involving vigilante groups.