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2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Benin

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 27 August 2008
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Benin, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa45fc.html [accessed 30 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor313
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2002-2003:13.2
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2002-2003:11.5
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2002-2003:15.3
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%), 2002-2003:
     – Agriculture68.9
     – Manufacturing5.2
     – Services22.3
     – Other3.7
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:11
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:96
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:78
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2004:59.2
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2004:52
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes
* Must pay miscellaneous school expenses

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Benin, children work on family farms and construction sites, and in stone quarries, small businesses, and markets.314 The practice of sending boys to Koranic teachers to receive education is a tradition in various countries, including Benin.315 Some Beninese boys who study with Koranic teachers, work in agriculture and as alms collectors, porters, and rickshaw operators in exchange for education.316 Children are involved in forced begging and child prostitution is a problem.317

Under the practice of Vidomegon, children, often girls, from poor families are sent to work as domestics in exchange for housing and food. Income generated from the children's activities is divided between the children's host and natural families. While the arrangement is initially a voluntary one between the families, the child frequently is subject to poor conditions such as long work hours, insufficient food, and sexual exploitation. In some instances, the child is trafficked into a situation of forced labor.318

Benin is a source, destination, and transit country for child trafficking.319 The majority of Beninese children are trafficked internally from rural to urban areas; from northern to central and southern Benin; and for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Boys are trafficked for work in agriculture, construction, and as street venders. Girls are trafficked for domestic work and sexual exploitation.320

The majority of Beninese children trafficked outside of the country are trafficked to Nigeria, where many are boys trafficked for work in rock quarries.321 Beninese children are also trafficked to Ghana, Republic of Congo, Guinea Bissau, and the Central African Republic for domestic service, farm labor, and sexual exploitation; and to Togo and Côte d'Ivoire for work on plantations. Some children from Niger, Togo, and Burkina Faso are also trafficked to Benin for forced labor and domestic work.322

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for admission to work in Benin is 14 years, including for apprenticeships; however, children between 12 and 14 years may perform domestic work and temporary or seasonal light work, if it does not interfere with their compulsory schooling.323 Children are also prohibited from performing night work, defined as work between the hours of 9 pm and 5 am.324 Beninese law prohibits workers under 18 years from performing certain types of work, including transporting heavy loads, operating certain types of machinery, working with hazardous substances, and working in underground mines and quarries.325 Employers are required to maintain a register including the birth date of all employees under 18, and a labor inspector can require that workers between 14 and 21 be examined by a doctor to determine that they are not working beyond their abilities. Violators of the minimum age laws are subject to fines, and in the case of repeat violators, a heavier fine is imposed.326

The law prohibits forced labor and stipulates a penalty of imprisonment for 2 months to 1 year and/or a fine.327 The minimum age for recruitment into the military is 21.328 Beninese law expressly forbids the trafficking of children.329 Child trafficking is defined as any means that alienate a child's freedom, such as the recruitment, transport, placement, receiving, or harboring of a child with the intent of exploitation. Exploitation is defined to include practices such as forced or compulsory labor, prostitution, the use of children in armed conflict, the use of children for the purpose of illicit activities, and work that may harm the safety, health, and morals of children.330 The punishment for moving or attempting to move a child within the country without proper authorization is imprisonment of 1 to 3 years and fines. The punishment for moving a child out of Benin without proper authorization is 2 to 5 years of imprisonment and fines.331 Child traffickers face a punishment of 10 to 20 years in prison, with the penalty increasing to life in prison if the child is not returned; the child is found dead before a verdict is reached; if force, fraud, or violence are used; or other aggravating circumstances exist. Individuals who employ child trafficking victims in Benin face 6 months to 2 years of imprisonment and a fine, while the penalty for parents who send their children with traffickers is a prison sentence of 6 months to 5 years.332

Benin was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Joint Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central African Regions.333 As part of the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement, the governments agreed to use the child trafficking monitoring system developed by the USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC LUTRENA project; to assist each other in the investigation, arrest and prosecution of trafficking offenders; and to protect, rehabilitate, and reintegrate trafficking victims.334

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for implementing the child labor provisions in the Labor Code. The Ministry employs 126 labor agents. These individuals assess the implementation of all labor laws and are not solely dedicated to child labor. Although most child labor in Benin occurs in the informal sector, labor agents largely regulate the formal sector.335 The Brigade for the Protection of Minors maintains a child trafficking database, arrests suspected traffickers, and rescues child trafficking victims. In 2007, the Brigade arrested 24 suspected traffickers, and rescued 179 children, some of whom had been trafficked to other countries for work in mines, quarries, and farms.336

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

During 2007, the Government included child trafficking provisions in the National Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP II), which covers years 2007 to 2009.337

In September 2007, the Ministry of Family and Children with support from ILO-IPEC approved the 5-year National Action Plan to Combat Child Trafficking for Labor Exploitation. The goal of the plan is to progressively reduce child trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation.338 The plan also aims to strengthen regulations against trafficking, and reinforce border surveillance of traffickers.339 The Nigerian Agency to Prohibit Trafficking in Persons, the Beninese Brigade for the Protection of Minors, and the Federation of Beninese Citizens in Abeokuta established agreements during the year to repatriate trafficked children who work in mines back to their homes in Benin.340 As a result of the agreements and efforts of the two governments, child trafficking victims were repatriated from Nigeria back to Benin during the year.341 In addition, the Consulate of Benin and the Government of the Republic of Congo are coordinating the repatriation of child trafficking victims back to Benin.342 In 2007, the Government continued to collaborate with NGOs to provide child trafficking victims with basic services, such as food and shelter, and to place them in educational and vocational programs.343 In addition, the Brigade for the Protection of Minors built a new transit shelter for child trafficking victims with the capacity to house up to 160 children at one time. The shelter provides legal, medical, and psychological support to children that have been trafficked. In April 2007, with support from UNODC, the Ministry of Family and Children conducted a training session on trafficking in persons (including children), for over 75 police officers, members of the court, and case workers.344 In 2007, the Government continued to raise awareness of child labor and trafficking through media campaigns and regional workshops and by collaborating with a network of NGOs and journalists, including with Togolese and Nigerian counterparts.345

The Government of Benin participated in the Combating Trafficking in Children for Labor Exploitation in West and Central Africa, Phases 1 & 2 (LUTRENA) regional project, funded by USDOL at USD 9.28 million and implemented by ILO-IPEC, to combat the trafficking of children for exploitive labor. During Phase II, from July 2001 to December 2007 (when the project ended) the project withdrew 4,240 children and prevented 7,213 children from trafficking in the region.346 The Government also participated in a 4-year, USDOL-funded, USD 2 million project implemented by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to combat child trafficking by improving access to basic education.347 The project ended in August 2007, and withdrew 1,303 children from trafficking and prevented an additional 5,844 children from falling victim to trafficking. In 2007, USDOS also funded a project implemented by CRS to support 6 Caritas rehabilitation centers that provided additional services to trafficking victims.348

France is funding two regional projects to combat child labor in francophone Africa that are implemented by ILO-IPEC, and complement each other. Phase II is funded at USD 488 million and ends December 2009; and Phase I was funded at USD 3.6 million and ended in March 2007. Denmark also funded a regional USD 325,378 project implemented by ILO-IPEC to combat trafficking in children for labor exploitation, which ended in December 2007.349


313 For statistical data not cited here, see the Data Sources and Definitions section. For data on ratifications and ILO-IPEC membership, see the Executive Summary. For minimum age for admission to work, age to which education is compulsory, and free public education, see Government of Benin, Code du Travail, Loi no 98-004, (January 27, 1998), article 166; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/49604/65115/F98BEN01.htm. See also UNESCO, EFA Global Monitoring Report 2008: Education for All by 2015 Will We Make it?, France, 2007, 280; available from http://portal.unesco.org/education/en/ev.php-URL_ID=49591&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html. See also Government of Benin, Constitution de la République du Bénin, (December 11, 1990), articles 12, 13; available from http://www.afrikinfo.com/lois/index.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Benin," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, 2008, section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/c25283.htm.

314 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Benin," section 5, 6d. See also UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Benin: Children crushing stones into gravel to get through school, [previously online] 2006 [cited October 12, 2006]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=47890 [hard copy on file].

315 Peter Easton, "Education and Koranic Literacy in West Africa," IK Notes no. 11 (August 1999), 1, 3; available from http://www.worldbank.org/afr/ik/iknt11.pdf. See also Peter Easton et al., Research Studies Series no. 8, International Working Group on Nonformal Education of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa, May 1997; available from http://www.adeanet.org/wgnfe/publications/abel/abel2.html.

316 United Nations, Committee on the Rights of the Child: Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention: Second Periodic Reports of States Parties Due in 1997: Benin, CRC/C/BEN/2, November 24, 2005, para 697-698.

317 Ibid., para 690. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Benin," section 5.

318 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Benin," sections 5, 6d.

319 U.S. Department of State, "Benin (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm.

320 Ibid. See also UNODC, Measures to Combat Trafficking in Human beings in Benin, Nigeria and Togo, Geneva, September, 2006, 52; available from http://www.unodc.org/pdf/human_trafficking/ht_research_report_nigeria.pdf. See also ILO-IPEC, La Traite des Enfants a des Fins d'Exploitation de leur Travail au Benin, Enfants Victimes: Caracteristiques Socio-Demographiques, Geneva, 2006, 30.

321 Terres des Hommes, Little Hands of the Stone Quarries, Investigation of Child Trafficking Between Benin and Nigeria, Le Mont-sur-Lausanne, December 2005, 5. See also United Nations, Implementation of General Assembly Resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006 Entitled "Human Rights Council": Summary of Cases Transmitted to Governments and Replies Received A/HRC/4/23/Add.1, May 30, 2007, para 38. See also United Nations, Implementation of General Assembly Resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006 Entitled "Human Rights Council": Communications to and from Governments, A/HRC/4/23/Add.1, March 15, 2007, para 22. See also ILO-IPEC, La Traite des Enfants, 32.

322 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Benin," section 5.

323 Government of Benin, Code du Travail, articles 66, 166. See also ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Benin (ratification: 2001), [online] 2004 [cited December 2, 2007], article 2, paras 1, 4, article 7, paras 1, 4; available from http://webfusion.ilo.org/public/db/standards/normes/appl/index.cfm?lang=EN.

324 Government of Benin, Code du Travail, articles 153, 154.

325 Inter-Ministerial Order No. 132 of 2000 as noted in ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request: Benin, Convention 138, article 3, para 2.

326 Government of Benin, Code du Travail, articles 167, 169, 301.

327 Ibid., articles 3, 303.

328 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, November 17, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/home.

329 Government of Benin, Loi portant conditions de déplacement des mineurs et répression de la traite d'enfants en République du Bénin, Loi no 2006-04, (2006), article 6; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/SERIAL/73266/74783/F1933999553/BEN73266.pdf.

330 Ibid., articles 3-4.

331 Ibid., articles 17, 18.

332 Ibid., articles 16, 21-24.

333 Catholic Relief Services official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, October 2, 2006. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), Technical Progress Report, Geneva, September 1, 2006, 2.

334 ECOWAS and ECCAS, Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, in West and Central Africa, Abuja, July 7, 2006, 5-7. See also ILO-IPEC, LUTRENA, Technical Progress Report, 10-11.

335 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Benin," section 6d. See also U.S. Embassy – Cotonou, reporting, November 30, 2007, para 8.

336 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Benin," section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Cotonou, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 6e.

337 Catholic Relief Services, Education First: Combating Child Trafficking through Education in Benin, Technical Progress Report, Baltimore, September 1, 2007, 20-21. See also Government of Benin, Strategie de Croissance pour la Reduction de la Pauvrete (SCRP) 2007-2009, April 2007, section 6.4.

338 Ministry of Family and Children, Plan d'Action National de Lutte Contre la Traite des Enfants a des Fins d'exploitation de Leur Travail, Cotonou, December 2007, 47, 55.

339 Ibid.

340 Catholic Relief Services, Education First, Technical Progress Report, 13.

341 U.S. Embassy – Cotonou, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 6h.

342 ILO Committee of Experts, Individual Observation, Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Congo (ratification: 2002), [online] 2007 [cited January 22, 2008], article 7, para 2; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/gbe/ceacr2005.htm.

343 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Benin," section 5.

344 U.S. Embassy – Cotonou, reporting, February 29, 2008, paras 6g, 9b. 345 U.S. Embassy – Cotonou, reporting, Novermber 30, 2007, para 10. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Benin," section 5, 6d. 346 ILO-IPEC, Amendment to Project Document "Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa", Project Document Amendment Geneva, September 3, 2004, 1, 8. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), Technical Progress Report, Geneva, September 1, 2007, 1-3. See also ILO-IPEC Geneva official, LUTRENA Project Table III.C. Final Report March 2008 E-mail communication to USDOL official, March 24, 2008.

347 Catholic Relief Services, Education First: Combating Child Trafficking through Education in Benin, Revised Project Document, Baltimore, May, 2005, i, 2.

348 Catholic Relief Services, Education First, Technical Progress Report, 5, 16.

349 ILO-IPEC Geneva official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, December 12, 2007.

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