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Optional protocolon the involvement of children in armed conflict, on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, on a Communication Procedure
Corporal punishmentCorporal Punishment is prohibited.
Overview of the child rights situation

In the report on Benin, many problems are clearly visible, for example that many children are underweight and growth-stunted. Generally, the health system is in a bad condition. The situation of emigrant, asylum-seeking and refugee children is not addressed in the report at all, and climate change does not play a role in the report either. On all other points, however, the information is very detailed and contains many facts and figures.

Female genital mutilation and reproductive rights

The Committee is concerned at the persistence of the traditional practice of vidomegon affecting girls and at the limited measures taken to eradicate it and to hold accountable those exploiting them.

The Committee recommends that the State party adopt a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health policy for adolescents and ensure that sexual and reproductive health education is part of the mandatory school curriculum and targeted at adolescent girls and boys, with special attention to preventing early pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Also, the State party should take measures to raise awareness of and foster responsible parenthood and sexual behaviour, with particular attention to boys and men, and decriminalize abortion in all circumstances and review its legislation with a view to ensuring children’s access to safe abortion and post-abortion care services, and ensure that the views of the pregnant girl are always heard and respected in abortion decisions.

Situation of children with disabilities

The Committee notes that the current legislation punishes all forms of infanticide and that certain measures have been taken to prevent them. However, it remains concerned that children born with disabilities and so-called “sorcerer’s” children are likely to be killed or abandoned by their parents.

The Committee is also concerned about the very little information on children with disabilities and about measures taken for their inclusion in regular schools.
The Committee urges the State party to adopt a human rights-based approach to disability, set up a comprehensive strategy for the inclusion of children with disabilities and organize the collection of data on children with disabilities and develop an efficient system for diagnosing disability, which is necessary for putting in place appropriate policies and programmes for children with disabilities. Also, Benin should set up comprehensive measures to develop inclusive education and ensure that inclusive education is given priority over the placement of children in specialized institutions and classes. In addition to that, Benin should take immediate measures to ensure that children with disabilities have access to health care, including early detection and intervention programmes and undertake awareness-raising campaigns aimed at government officials, the public and families to combat the stigmatization of and prejudice against children with disabilities and promote a positive image of such children.

Free kindergartenNo
Free primary and secondary schoolNo
physical health

The Committee is deeply concerned that the infant, neonatal and maternal mortality rates remain very high and that 20 per cent of children under 5 years of age are underweight and 40 per cent suffer from moderate to severe stunting. It is also concerned about the high incidence of malaria and malnutrition in the State party, the limited access to clean water and adequate sanitation, and that the universal health insurance scheme is still not operational.

To guarantee the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, the Committee recommends that the State party strengthen its efforts to further reduce infant and child mortality, focusing on prevention and treatment, including vaccination uptake, improving nutrition and sanitary conditions, increasing access to drinking water, especially in the rural areas and in schools, and fighting against communicable diseases, malnutrition and malaria. In addition to that, Benin should also make the universal health insurance scheme operational.

Relation to other countries
Business sector

The Committee is deeply concerned about the prevalence of child labour among children under 14 years of age, including the worst forms of child labour, the distortion of the traditional practice of vidomegon into forced labour, and about the increasing number of children working in the informal sector despite the legal prohibition on work under 14 years of age. It is concerned that no complaints or formal penalties have been recorded against persons requiring children under 14 years of age to work. The Committee is also concerned that there is no information on measures taken to punish persons who exploit children, on whether the decisions taken by the national steering committee to combat child labour are being implemented, and whether the latter has been allocated sufficient resources. The Committee is also concerned at the fact that the minimum age for employment is set at 14 years of age, despite the declared intention to extend the minimum age for completion of compulsory education to 15.

Situation of juvenile justice

The Committee urges the State party to guarantee the provision of qualified and independent legal aid to children in conflict with the law at an early stage of the procedure and throughout the legal proceedings and to promote alternative measures to detention, such as diversion, probation, mediation, counselling or community service, wherever possible, and ensure that detention is used as a last resort and for the shortest possible period of time, and that it is reviewed on a regular basis with a view to revoking it. It further urges Benin to investigate all allegations of torture or ill-treatment, and prosecute and punish law enforcement officers responsible for such abuses against children deprived of liberty and to ensure that prison authorities facilitate individual private interviews with detained children and staff during visits by representatives from independent bodies such as non-governmental organizations. Also, in cases where detention is unavoidable, to ensure that children are not detained together with adults and that detention conditions are compliant with international standards, including with regard to access to education and health services.

Specific observations

The Committee is concerned that many children are still not registered at birth, in particular children living in remote rural communities, children from disadvantaged families and children in residential care. It is also concerned that many barriers to birth registration remain, such as insufficient information or awareness as to the importance of birth registration certificates, insufficient enabling frameworks to ensure that all births are registered, and high transaction costs to obtain certificates, owing to an environment of corruption and poverty. The Committee is also concerned that the existing legislation contains discriminatory provisions which provide that the loss of Beninese nationality by a husband can be extended to a mother and children.

The Committee is further concerned at the practice of sequestration of children, especially girls, in voodoo convents because of family traditions and beliefs. The Committee is particularly concerned that such children are deprived of education and contacts outside of the convents, and are subjected to ill treatment, including scarification rites and sexual abuse.
The Committee notes the State party’s efforts to ensure respect for the views of the child through the Children’s Parliament and the Youth Parliament, but remains concerned that the State party has not taken the measures necessary to overcome traditional societal attitudes which limit children from freely expressing their views in schools, in courts or within the family and the community.

Additional background

Concluding observations on the third to fifth periodic reports released on 25 February 2016. More information about education in Benin:

Last Updated (date)22nd of February, 2022