Côte d'Ivoire: State protection available to women facing forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) especially in Gagnoa, since the enactment of the Law Concerning Crimes Against Women in December 1998; whether the enforcement of the law has increased or decreased since the military coup in December 1999
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||15 September 2000|
|Citation / Document Symbol||CIV35296.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Côte d'Ivoire: State protection available to women facing forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) especially in Gagnoa, since the enactment of the Law Concerning Crimes Against Women in December 1998; whether the enforcement of the law has increased or decreased since the military coup in December 1999, 15 September 2000, CIV35296.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3df4be2010.html [accessed 25 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This 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.|
According to Country Reports 1999,
Until 1998 there was no law that specifically prohibited FGM, which was considered illegal only as a violation of general laws prohibiting crimes against persons. However, the Law Concerning Crimes against Women enacted in December 1998 specifically forbids FGM and makes those who perform it subject to criminal penalties of imprisonment for up to 5 years and a fine of from roughly $650 to $3,500 (360,00 to 2 million CFA francs); double penalties apply for medical practioners. FGM is practised particularly among the rural population in the north and west and to a lesser extent in the center ... since the law on FGM was enacted in December 1998, 6 girls in Abidjan's Port Bouet district were mutilated, and police and social workers neither acted to prevent the mutilation nor to arrest the girls' parents.
Women's advocacy organizations have sponsored campaigns against FGM (female genital mutilation), forced marriage, and marriage of minors, patterns of inheritance that exclude women, and Family and Women's Affairs organized a seminar on FGM. In some areas traditional authorities, who generally have upheld the practice, began to take part in public demonstrations against FGM (2000, 151-152).
In 1999, Ivorian women reportedly continued to experience male "brutality" despite existing laws against the practice (PANA 11 Mar. 1999). Women's rights activists and politicians contend that the law will be difficult to enforce because of the social and economic underpinnings of violence against women (WIN News 31 July 1999). According to this source,
Forced marriage in Côte d'Ivoire is closely related to the issue of poverty. Parents try to marry off their 7-year-old girl, even if the man is old enough to be her grandfather, and she is his second or third wife and has no legal rights. They know they will get money from the husband, the traditional "brideprice" often a considerable sum. People here are poor and are always looking for someone who can bring them wealth (ibid.).
A study conducted by Ivorian Association for the Defense of Women (AIDF), found that 80 per cent of women in Abidjan have experienced domestic violence while 75 per cent of them were living under forced marriages (IPS 7 Oct. 1999). According to Constance Yahi, then present of AIDF, "the situation is not very different in the countryside, where male partners are imposed by parents who reject legal marriages, maintaining marital relations benefit women and their children more than the men" (ibid.). AIDF, created in 1992 and funded by the UN Population Fund (UNPF), UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and the Canadian embassy in Côte d'Ivoire, "aims to combat harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation, forced or under-age marriages, and wife-inheritance. It fights against all types of violence towards women, and lobbies officials to change those laws which continue to discriminate against women" (ibid.).
An 11 September 2000 PANA report states that in the near future a new Executive Order on Violence Against Women will be submitted to the Council of Ministers. The order, the first of its kind in Africa which aims to curb the raising incident of violence against women, was reportedly drafted by the office of Constance Yahi, Minister of Women's Solidarity and Promotion and former President of AIDF. It obligates police authorities to directly intervene in cases of domestic violence reported by a third party (neighbours, parents, and various associations) regardless of whether victims themselves report the case or not (ibid.). According to this source, in March 2000, the AIDF opened a "Women's House" to assist women in distress.
Since its opening, last March, the "Women's House" has already received several dozens of women and girls of various ages, social and religious backgrounds. These include victims of violence and/or women threatened with violence from excision, forced or premature marriages, school dropouts and orphans (ibid.).
In 1999, a 12-year-old girl reportedly killed her 30-year-old husband "out of desperation because he raped and beat her" (WIN 1999). The girl Awa Keita, was reportedly forced by her parents to marry his cousin (PANA 11 Sept. 2000). According to PANA, the girl was released from prison owing to a campaign conducted by AIDF, which aroused immense public opinion on the problem (ibid.).
No reports on FGM and forced marriage specific to Gagnoa could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please see below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999. 2000. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.
Inter Press Service (IPS). 7 October 1999. Beh Ballo. "Rights-Cote d'Ivoire Efforts to Outlaw Domestic Violence." (NEXIS)
Pan Africa News Agency [PANA]. 11 September 2000. "Ordonnance contre Les Violences Faites aux Femmes."
_____. 11 March 1999. Melvis Dzisah. "Ivorian Women Still Victims of Male Brutalities." (Africa News/NEXIS)
WIN News. 31 July 1999. "Female Genital Mutilation: Côte d'Ivoire, FGM Law and Protection for Women Hard to Enforce." (Gender Watch/NEXIS)
Additional Sources Consulted
Africa Research Bulletin: Political, Social and Cultural Series [Oxford]. September- October 1999.
Keesings Record of World Events [Cambridge]. September-October 1999.
Resource Centre. Country File. Côte d'Ivoire.
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