Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape is punishable by 10 to 30 years in prison, depending on the circumstances and age of the victim. Rape was a widespread problem and stigmatization continued.
The law does not explicitly recognize spousal rape, and authorities seldom prosecuted it. Victims often sought to deal with the rape within the family or were pressured to do so, and many victims did not report spousal rape due to fear of retribution, including loss of economic support.
The law does not explicitly prohibit domestic violence, but violence against women was reportedly widespread. Husbands commonly beat their wives.
A woman may sue her husband or lodge criminal charges for battery, penalties for which range from two months in prison and a fine of 10,000 CFA francs ($18) to 30 years’ imprisonment. The government tried with limited success to enforce these laws, and courts prosecuted cases of domestic violence when they received complaints. Charges stemming from family disputes often were dropped in favor of traditional dispute-resolution mechanisms. While women have the right to seek redress for violence in the customary or formal courts, few did so due to ignorance of redress offered by the legal system and fear of spousal or familial repudiation, further violence, or stigmatization.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C, which is punishable by six months to three years in prison. If an FGM/C victim dies, the practitioner may be sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison.
For more information, see data.unicef.org/resources/female-genital-mutilation-cutting-country-profiles/.
Other Harmful Traditional Practices: The practice continued of taking a “fifth wife,” or “wahaya,” in which girls and women were sold into slavery to perform labor and sexual services.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is a crime punishable by prison sentences of three to six months and fines of 10,000 to 100,000 CFA francs ($18 to $180). If the violator is in a position of authority over the victim, the prison sentence is three months to one year and the fine is increased to 20,000 to 200,000 CFA francs ($36 to $360). Nevertheless, sexual harassment was common. Courts enforced applicable laws in the small percentage of cases reported.
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 constitution provides for equal legal status and rights regardless of sex, women do not have the same rights as men under family law, which customary courts usually adjudicate. In customary law, legal rights as head of household typically apply only to men. Customary law does not consider a divorced or widowed woman, even with children, to be a head of household. Discrimination was worse in rural areas, where women helped with subsistence farming and did most of the childrearing, cooking, water- and wood-gathering, and other work. In the absence of a formal will stating otherwise, a daughter’s share of a deceased parent’s property is half the size of a son’s share.
Birth Registration: Children derive citizenship from their parents, as long as one parent is a citizen. Birth registration, especially in remote rural areas and in nomadic communities, did not take place promptly due to parental poverty, lack of awareness, and distance from government services. The government’s failure to register births did not result in denial of public services. For additional information, see Appendix C.
Education: Although the law provides for education for all children from age four to 18, compulsory education for children of specific ages was not enforced. Students often had to buy their own books and supplies. Many parents kept young girls at home to work, and girls rarely attended school for more than a few years.
Child Abuse: Violence against and abuse of children were common. The law prescribes penalties for child abuse. For example, parents of minors who usually engage in begging, or any person who encourages children to beg or profits from their begging, may be sentenced to six months’ to one year’s imprisonment. The abduction of a minor less than 18 years of age is punishable by two to 10 years’ imprisonment. The penalty for abduction for ransom is life imprisonment.
During the first quarter of the year, 2,633 children (34.83 percent of whom were girls) received services through the Protection Service within the Ministry for the Promotion of Women and the Protection of Children. Among these the government reported 131 cases of mistreatment and 74 cases of sexual abuse.
Early and Forced Marriage: The law allows a girl deemed to be “sufficiently mature” to marry at age 15. Some families entered into marriage agreements under which they sent rural girls who were 12 or even younger to their husband’s families to be under the “supervision” of their mothers-in-law.
The government, with the support of the African Union and UNICEF, ran campaigns aimed at reducing the prevalence of early marriage. The Ministry of Women’s Promotion and Children’s Protection cooperated with women’s associations to sensitize traditional chiefs and religious leaders in rural communities to the problem of early marriage. For additional information, see Appendix C.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Although the law criminalizes the procurement of a minor for the purpose of prostitution, child prostitution was a problem. The minimum age of consensual sex is 13 for both boys and girls.
The law provides that “exploitation shall include, at minimum, slavery or practices similar to slavery” and adds that the recruitment, transport, transfer, harboring, or receiving of a minor under the age of 18 for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered trafficking in persons. The penalty for violators is five to 10 years in prison and a fine of 500,000 to five million CFA francs ($919 to $9,190). If the victim is under the age of 18, the penalty is 10 to 30 years’ imprisonment. If the victim dies, the penalty is life imprisonment.
The penal code provides for two to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 50,000 to 500,000 CFA francs ($91 to $910) for the prostitution of children. The law prohibits “indecent” acts against victims under the age of 18. It leaves to judges to determine what constitutes an indecent act. Girls, in particular, reportedly were trafficked for forced prostitution. Families of victims were often complicit in child prostitution.
Infanticide or Infanticide of Children with Disabilities: Infanticide occurred, and a sizeable proportion of the female prison population was incarcerated for this crime, which was often committed to hide pregnancies out of wedlock.
Displaced Children: Many displaced boys from rural areas were indentured to Islamic schools, where they were forced to beg on the streets of larger cities. Displaced children had access to government services. Unaccompanied migrant children transited Niger en route to Libya, Algeria, and Europe. Some unaccompanied migrant children travelled to the Djado gold fields to find work in unregulated gold mines.
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 travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
There was no significant Jewish community, and 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 constitution and law prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities. The government generally enforced these provisions. There were no specific regulations in place mandating accessibility to buildings, transportation, and education for persons with disabilities. The law mandates that new government buildings be accessible to persons with disabilities, but often architects and construction firms ignored this requirement; the law was not enforced.
Children with disabilities attended school but faced difficulties, including a lack of adapted instruction and materials as well as with the evaluation system. There were three schools for children with hearing disabilities, one school for blind children, and five inclusive classes for blind children in mainstream public schools.
Members of the Buduma and Bororo Fulani minority ethnic groups faced governmental and societal discrimination due to a widespread perception that the two groups supported or facilitated Boko Haram’s activities.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
There was strong societal stigma against same-sex sexual activity, but there are no laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual activity in general. The law states an “unnatural act” with a person under the age of 21 of the same sex is punishable by six months to three years in prison and a fine of 10,000 to 100,000 CFA francs ($18 to $180).
Gay men and lesbians experienced societal discrimination and social resentment. Two gay rights associations reportedly conducted their activities secretly, in part because they were not officially registered. There were no reports of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. There were no documented cases of discrimination in employment, occupation, housing, statelessness, or access to education or health care based on sexual orientation. Observers believed stigma or intimidation impeded individuals from reporting such abuse.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Persons with HIV/AIDS experienced societal discrimination, although strong government efforts discouraged such discrimination. In conjunction with several other organizations working on HIV/AIDS issues, the government continued its antidiscrimination campaign. The labor code provides for protection against discrimination for persons suffering from diseases such as HIV/AIDS and sickle cell anemia.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
There continued to be serious stigma associated with being the descendant of a slave.