Benin

Country: Benin

Population: 10.7 million (2016 est.)[1]

Languages:[2] French (official), Fon and Yoruba (South), Tribal Languages

Major religions:[3] Catholic 27.1%, Muslim 24.4%, Vodoun 17.3%

 

Estimated FGC prevalence among women aged 15-49:

9% (based on Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2014 preliminary data) [4]

A breakdown of Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) 2011-2012 data shows the following:

table-1-updated

Type(s) practised:

The most widely practised form is Type II (commonly known as excision).[5]

Legal status:

In 2003, Benin enacted a law criminalising the practice of FGC.[6] The law imposes prison sentences and fines on those who perform FGC or know about it and do not report it. However, enforcement is rare due to the code of silence associated with this practice.[7]

 


[1] ‘Benin’ (The World Factbook, CIA) <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bn.html> accessed 18 October 2016

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

[4] Institut National de la Statistique et de l’Analyse Economique (INSAE) and Unicef, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS): Benin Key Findings Report 2014 (INSAE and Unicef 2015)

[5]Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, BENIN 2015 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT (Washington: U.S. Department of State 2015)

< http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/252863.pdf> accessed 18 October 2016

[6] Ras-Work B, ‘Legislation to address the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM)‘ (United Nations 2009) <http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/egm/vaw_legislation_2009/Expert%20Paper%20EGMGPLHP%20_Berhane%20Ras-Work%20revised_.pdf> accessed 18 October 2016

[7] U.S. Department of State (n 5)

History of FGC in Benin:[1]

The Inter-African Committee (IAC) is the leading NGO working on FGC in Benin. The Benin chapter of the IAC was set up in 1982. Since then, IAC has conducted various workshops and seminars where participants tend to vary, including individuals (both men and women), villagers, religious and community leaders, mayors, doctors, midwives, as well as representatives of youth and women’s organisations.

In 1983, the President of Benin publically spoke out against the practice of FGC at the Constitutive National Congress of the Organization of Revolutionary Women of Benin. In April 2000, several traditional authorities, i.e. chiefs and kings, denounced the practice in a joint statement.

FGC in Benin is widely recognised as a community practice that concerns both men and women rather than as an isolated woman’s issue. Focus is concentrated on medical, economic and social aspects of the practice rather than issues around male domination or the repression of female sexuality which is the case in other contexts.

 


[1] Office of the Senior Coordinator for International Women's Issues, Benin: Report on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Female Genital Cutting (FGC) (Washington: U.S. Department of State 2001) <http://2001-2009.state.gov/g/wi/rls/rep/crfgm/10046.htm> accessed 18 October 2016

Current efforts to abandon FGC:

NGOs in Benin are continuing their work to educate communities about the risks of FGC, as well as providing opportunities for practitioners to re-train.[1] The IAC continues to be the most active NGO working on the issue of FGC in Benin, and with governmental support has made significant progress in raising awareness about FGC. They have focused particularly on awareness-raising in local languages and on local radio stations.

The government authorises the distribution of information related to FGC in hospitals and conducts awareness campaigns in rural areas of the country. This is important considering that 97% of FGC cases are performed by traditional practitioners.[2]

These multi-lateral efforts in Benin have experienced success, with only 2% of girls and women supporting FGC and 3% of boys and men supporting FGC in 2011-2012.[3] The demographics of these opinions are not religious or wealth sensitive, as the percentages are universal across the state.

Ongoing challenges:

Despite being outlawed and support for the practice being low FGC is still being practised on girls and women from infancy up to age 30; the majority of cases occur before age 13, with half occurring before age 5. The figures show prevalence remains high in some regions, especially the northern parts of the country.[4]

 


[1]Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, BENIN 2015 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT (Washington: U.S. Department of State 2015)

<http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/252863.pdf> accessed 18 October 2016

[2] ‘Benin: Statistical profile on female genital mutilation/cutting’ (Unicef) <http://data.unicef.org/wp-content/uploads/country_profiles/Benin/FGMC_BEN.pdf> accessed 18 October 2016

[3] ibid

[4] ibid

Prevalence by geographical department:

map-benin-final

Source: Unicef 2014

Practising ethnic groups:

table-2

 

Prevailing attitudes towards FGC:

table-3

 

Reference list:

‘Benin: Statistical profile on female genital mutilation/cutting’ (Unicef) <http://data.unicef.org/wp-content/uploads/country_profiles/Benin/FGMC_BEN.pdf> accessed 18 October 2016

‘Benin’ (The World Factbook, CIA)<https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bn.html> accessed 18 October 2016

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, BENIN 2015 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT (Washington: U.S. Department of State 2015)

< http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/252863.pdf> accessed 18 October 2016

Institut National de la Statistique et de l’Analyse Economique (INSAE) and Unicef, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS): Benin Key Findings Report 2014 (INSAE and Unicef 2015)

Population Reference Bureau, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: Data and Trends Update 2014 <http://www.prb.org/pdf14/fgm-wallchart2014.pdf> accessed 18 October 2016

Office of the Senior Coordinator for International Women's Issues, Benin: Report on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Female Genital Cutting (FGC) (Washington: U.S. Department of State 2001) <http://2001-2009.state.gov/g/wi/rls/rep/crfgm/10046.htm> accessed 18 October 2016

Ras-Work B, ‘Legislation to address the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM)’ (United Nations 2009)<http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/egm/vaw_legislation_2009/Expert%20Paper%20EGMGPLHP%20_Berhane%20Ras-Work%20revised_.pdf> accessed 18 October 2016

In the news:

Reuters - Former cutter now works towards stamping out FGC

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