Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 09:55 GMT

Benin: Forced marriages, in particular, marriages forced on men and protection offered by the state

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Publication Date 22 January 2007
Citation / Document Symbol BEN102408.FE
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Benin: Forced marriages, in particular, marriages forced on men and protection offered by the state, 22 January 2007, BEN102408.FE, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469cd6cbc.html [accessed 19 December 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.

Corroborating sources indicate that, although forced marriages are prohibited in Benin (OMCT Sept. 2006, 13; Freedom House 8 Sept. 2006), it is still practised in some rural areas (ESE-Bénin 11 Jan. 2007; United Nations 10 Jan. 2007). In 10 January 2007 correspondence, a representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) described forced marriages as [translation] "marriages arranged by the parents for the two future spouses" and added that [translation] "victims have little choice, given the pressure put on them by their parents." The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women is concerned about the school drop-out rate of young girls in Benin, which is primarily due to forced marriages and their consequences (UN 22 July 2005, 5). A report published by the World Organization Against Torture (Organisation mondiale contre la torture, OMCT) indicates that children with no families are often [translation] "victims" of forced marriages (Sept. 2006, 23).

As for marriages forced on men, the representative of ESE-Bénin, a [translation] "non-governmental organization for the monitoring of the population with regard to education, health and the environment" (ESE-Bénin May 2006), stated that, to the organization's knowledge, these [translation] "cases are practically non-existent" in Benin (11 Jan. 2007). However, in 12 January 2007 correspondence, the UNDP representative provided the following information. Men are forced to marry in the context of [translation] "arranged marriages." In [translation] "rural areas, these cases are almost routine. In the city, it all depends on the parents' level of education." Men who refuse to comply with a forced marriage may [translation] "be cursed by their parents" and [translation] "have a lot of problems." In addition, [translation] "some people who visit witch doctors are told that their parents are angry with them and that until the misunderstanding is resolved, [they will never be] at peace." This information could not be corroborated among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

No additional information on forced marriages and, in particular, marriages forced on men, could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

Protection offered by the state

A new personal and family code came into effect in Benin on 24 August 2004 (Cybersolidaires 11 Oct. 2004; OMCT Sept. 2006, 13). The code prohibits forced marriage (ibid.; Freedom House 8 Sept. 2006; US 8 Mar. 2006, Sec. 5) and sets the minimum age for men and women to get married at 18 years (UN 7 July 2005; OMCT Sept. 2006, 11). Corroborating sources indicate that various national organizations, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), have implemented programs to make rural populations aware of the new personal and family code (ABCNA 23 Feb.-22 Mar. 2006; Cybersolidaires 11 Oct. 2004; US n.d.).

In its concluding comments, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women indicated that it [UN English version] "remains concerned about the application of customary practices [in Benin] and the consequences thereof" (UN 22 July 2005, 3). The Committee also stated that it is [UN English version] "concerned about the prevalence of structural patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes that may undermine the effectiveness of the Code and prevent compliance with its provisions" (ibid., 4). Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2005 indicates that the personal and family code had not been fully implemented by the end of 2005 (US 8 Mar. 2006, Sec. 5). A report published by OXFAM-Québec, a Canadian non-governmental organization that is a member of the development agency OXFAM International (OXFAM-Québec n.d.), indicates that [translation] "numerous legal experts, journalists and researchers have noted that the government has largely failed to take on women's rights, some of which are recognized, but are not implemented effectively" (Dec. 2006, 6). No additional information on the implementation of the new personal and family code could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

No additional information on the protection offered by the state to the victims of forced marriages 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 for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Association béninoise du cinéma numérique ambulant (ABCNA). 23 February-22 March 2006. Martine de Souza. Sensibilisation et vulgarisation des nouvelles dispositions du code des personnes et de la famille à travers le film "Promesse de mariage." [Accessed 12 Jan. 2007]

Cybersolidaires. 11 October 2004. "Bénin : Le nouveau Code des personnes et de la famille promulgué." [Accessed 9 Jan. 2007]

ESE-Bénin. 11 January 2007. Correspondence from a representative.
_____ . May 2006. "Bienvenue." [Accessed 12 Jan. 2007]

Freedom House. 8 September 2006. "Benin." Freedom in the World 2006. [Accessed: 11 Jan. 2007]

Organisation mondiale contre la torture (OMCT). September 2006. "Droits de l'enfant au Bénin." Rapport alternatif au Comité des Nations Unies des droits de l'enfant sur la mise en ouvre de la Convention relative aux droits de l'enfant au Bénin, 43e session – Genève. [Accessed 11 Jan. 2007]

OXFAM-Québec. December 2006. "Études sur la violence faite aux femmes en Afrique de l'Ouest." [Accessed 11 Jan. 2007]
_____ . N.d. "Qui sommes-nous ?" [Accessed 11 Jan. 2007]

United Nations (UN). 12 January 2007. United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Correspondence from a representative.
_____ . 10 January 2007. United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Correspondence from a representative.
_____ . 22 July 2005. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. Observations finales : Bénin. (CEDAW/C/BEN/CO/1-3) [Accessed 11 Jan. 2007]
_____ . 7 July 2005. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. 687th and 688th meetings. "Les experts du CEDAW se félicitent des efforts du Bénin mais constatent d'importants obstacles à la protection des droits de la femme." (FEM/1512). [Accessed 9 Jan. 2007]

United States (US). 8 March 2006. Department of State. "Benin." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2005. [Accessed 11 Jan. 2007]
_____ . N.d. United States Agency for International Development (USAID). "Benin – Women Reach for Legal Rights." [Accessed: 12 Jan. 2007]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: The organization Women, Law and Development in Africa and the Association des femmes juristes du Bénin did not respond to requests for information within the time constraints of this Response.

Internet sites, including: Africatime.com, AllAfrica, Amnesty International (AI), Fédération international des ligues des droits de l'homme (FIDH), government of Benin, Human Rights Internet, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN).

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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