COVID-19: latest news and resources on child marriage and COVID-19

Visit our new interactive Atlas!

Benin

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
9%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
31%

* References

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
9%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
31%

* References

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?

31% of girls in Benin are married before their 18th birthday and 9% are married before the age of 15.

5% of boys in Benin are married before the age of 18.

Child marriage rates vary across the country and are highest in Alibori (where 54% of women aged 20-49 were married before the age of 18), Zou (43%) and Borgou (40%).

Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that girls are somehow inferior to boys. In Benin, child marriage is also driven by:

  • Level of education: 27% of women who have only completed primary education were married before 18, compared to 2% who have completed secondary school or higher.
  • Poverty: 44% of women in Benin’s poorest households were married before 18, compared to 16% from the richest households.
  • Humanitarian context: In 2010 Benin faced severe flooding, leaving more than 120,000 children displaced. A 2011 CARE report showed that this led to an increase in child marriage, as parents sought to secure better lives for their daughters and to gain financially from bride payments.

Trafficking: While there is a lack of recent statistics about the scale of the problem, trafficking in Benin is both internal and across borders, and involves children from low-income families. Informal trafficking routes involve West and Central African countries. Trafficking places girls at particular risk of being forcibly married or forced into sexual and domestic servitude.

What has this country committed to?

Benin has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. The government did not provide an update on progress towards this target during its Voluntary National Review at the 2017 High Level Political Forum, however did mention target 5.3 as an indicator in its 2018 Voluntary National Review.

Benin co-sponsored the 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2018 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage, and the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage. In 2014, Benin signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.

Benin ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1992, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

In 2016 the UN Child Rights Committee expressed concern that child marriage is still practiced on a large scale in rural areas and specific regions in the north of Benin. It recommended that the government raise awareness on the harmful effects that child marriage has on the physical and mental wellbeing of girls, targeting households, local authorities, judges and religious leaders.

During its 2018 Universal Periodic Review, Benin supported recommendations to redouble efforts to significantly reduce harmful practices such as child marriage, and to strengthen information campaigns and enforcement of the law.

 

In 2017 Benin launched the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa.

In 1997 Benin ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, including Article 21 regarding the prohibition of child marriage.

In 2005 Benin ratified the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, including Article 6 which sets the minimum age for marriage as 18.

As a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in 2017 Benin adopted the Strategic Framework for Strengthening National Child Protection Systems under which protecting children from marriage is a priority. In June 2019, the ECOWAS Heads of State endorsed the ECOWAS Child Policy and Strategic Action Plan and the 2019-2030 Roadmap on prevention and response to child marriage.

In addition, in July 2019, the ECOWAS First Ladies signed “The Niamey Declaration: Call to End Child Marriage and to promote the Education and empowerment of Girls”, calling Member States to initiate legislative, institutional and budgetary reforms to implement the 2019-2030 Roadmap.

Benin is a partner country of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

What is the government doing to address this at the national level?

In 2016 the Ministry of Social Affairs, UNICEF Benin and the First Lady Claudine Talon launched the “Zero Tolerance to Child Marriage” campaign which aims to end child marriage by changing social norms and creating a protective environment for children and their communities.

The national youth platform “Plateforme des Jeunes Synergie d’Action pour la Campagne Tolérance Zéro” plays a key role in implementing the campaign and also breaking silence on sexual violence against children.

As part of this, young artists, in partnership with UNICEF Benin, produced a soap opera on early pregnancies and dialogue between parents and children, the hymn of the campaign to end child marriage “Let me grow up”, a damning song on sexual violence in schools, as well as on sexual violence directed to traditional and religious leaders. The campaign has led to significant achievements, including community dialogues on child marriage at the district level, discussions with religious leaders and training of journalists on child marriage.

In May 2019, the Ministry of Social Affairs organised a workshop to take stock of all the actions carried out as part of the “Zero Tolerance to Child Marriage” campaign, plan future actions to reduce and eradicate child marriage in Benin, and make available to stakeholders various awareness-raising products developed in the campaign.

In 2014 the Council of Ministers adopted the National Policy for the Protection of Children and its accompanying Action Plan.

Traditional leaders pay a key role in ending child marriage. In 2018, the leaders of the Baatonu people signed an official declaration where they committed to end child marriage in the Baatonu culture.

Benin is one of the 11 countries working to create child marriage-free communities by 2020 as part of the Her Choice Alliance. The Alliance is working to improve the enforcement of the minimum age of marriage by setting up monitoring bodies in the communities.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

The Code des Personnes et de la Famille 2002 and the Code de l’Enfant 2015-08 both establish 18 as the minimum age of marriage.

However minors can marry before 18 years with parental consent or in some cases judicial consent.

Source

African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child,[website], 2018, https://www.achpr.org/legalinstruments/detail?id=46 (accessed January 2020).

African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, [website], 2018, https://au.int/en/treaties/protocol-african-charter-human-and-peoples-rights-rights-women-africa (accessed January 2020).

African Union, Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa: Call to Action, 2013, https://au.int/sites/default/files/pages/32905-file-campaign_to_end_child_marriage_in_africa_call_for_action-_english.pdf (accessed January 2020).

Beyond Intractability, Child Trafficking in Benin, West Africa, 2010, https://www.beyondintractability.org/casestudy/brown-trafficking (accessed January 2020).

CARE, An assessment of gender-based violence in emergencies in Southern Benin, 2011, https://www.alnap.org/help-library/an-assessment-of-gender-based-violence-in-emergencies-in-southern-benin (accessed January 2020).

Déclaration Officielle des rois de l’aire culturelle Baatonu pour un engagement contre les violences, abus sexuels y compris le mariage des enfants, 2018, [unpublished]

ECOWAS, ECOWAS First Ladies affirm Commitment to End Child Marriage and Promote Girl-Child Education in the Region, [website], 2019, https://www.ecowas.int/ecowas-first-ladies-affirm-commitment-to-end-child-marriage-and-promote-girl-child-education-in-the-region/ (accessed January 2020).

ECOWAS, Final Communique. Fifty-fifth Ordinary Session of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, 2019, https://www.ecowas.int/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Final-Communiqué_55th-Summit_Abuja_29-June-2019-1.pdf (accessed January 2020).

Girls Not Brides, ECOWAS Adopts Framework To Strengthen Child Protection In West Africa, [website], 2017, https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/ecowas-adopts-framework-strengthen-child-protection-west-africa/ (accessed January 2020).

Girls Not Brides, Youth In Benin Stand Up To Child Marriage On Day Of The African Child 2017, [website], 2017, https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/ecowas-adopts-framework-strengthen-child-protection-west-africa/ (accessed January 2020).

Global Partnership for Education, Benin, [website], https://www.globalpartnership.org/where-we-work/benin (accessed January 2020).

Gouvernement du Benin et UNCIEF, Benin: Etude sur les perceptions, connaissances, attitudes, pratiques et les déterminants des violences et abus sexuels faits aux enfants y compris le mariage des enfants dans les communes de Karimama, Za-Kpota et Pèrèrè, 2017, [unpublished]

Gouverment de la République du Bénin, La Campagne Nationale Tolérance Zéro au mariage des enfants au cœur d’un atelier de dynamisation à Cotonou, [website], 2019, https://www.gouv.bj/actualite/276/la-campagne-nationale-tolerance-zero-au-mariage-des-enfants-au-cœur-dun-atelier-de-dynamisation-a-cotonou/ (accessed January 2020).

Her Choice, Annual Progress Report 2018, 2019, http://www.her-choice.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/HER-CHOICE-Annual-Progress-Report-2018.pdf (accessed January 2020).

Institut National de la Statistique et de l’Analyse Économique (INSAE) et ICF, Enquête Démographique et de Santé au Bénin, 2017-2018, 2019, https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/FR350/FR350.pdf (accessed January 2020).

Institut national de la statistique et de l’analyse économique, Enquête par grappes à indicateurs multiples 2014, Rapport final, 2015, https://mics-surveys-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/MICS5/West%20and%20Central%20Africa/Benin/2014/Final/Benin%202014%20MICS%20FR_French.pdf (accessed January 2020).

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3, [website], 2014, http://fngeneve.um.dk/en/aboutus/statements/newsdisplaypage/?newsid=6371ad93-8fb0-4c35-b186-820fa996d379 (accessed January 2020).

Republique du Benin, Contribution Nationale Volontaire A La Mise En Œuvre Des Odd Au Forum Politique De Haut Niveau, 2018, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/19366Benin_VNR_2018_BENIN_French.pdf (accessed January 2020).

République du Bénin, Loi N° 2002 – 07 Portant Code des personnes et de la famille, https://data.unicef.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/code-des-personnes.pdf (accessed January 2020).

Tolérance Zéro Bénin, CTZ Bénin Voice, Laissez-moi Grandir (Hymne de la CTZ), , 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGQwi1Dy4a4&feature=youtu.be (accessed April 2020).

Tolérance Zéro Bénin, HWLIN MI (Sauvez-nous) | Gopal Das, Harmonie BYLL CATARYA & Amagbegnon (Clip Officiel), , 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hh5OUAPzb4A&feature=youtu.be (accessed April 2020).

Tolérance Zéro Bénin, SARIYA YOU SIRI (Que justice soit rendue), , 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzST7uuoblg&feature=youtu.be (accessed April 2020).

U.S. Department of State, 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report: Benin, 2019, [website], https://www.state.gov/reports/2019-trafficking-in-persons-report-2/benin/ (accessed January 2020).

UN Child Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the combined third to fifth periodic reports of Benin, 2016, p.9, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC/C/BEN/CO/3-5&Lang=Sp (accessed January 2020).

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Benin, 2018, p.18, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/BJIndex.aspx (accessed January 2020).

UNICEF Benin, Say no to child marriage,, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lyMStv-ClU (accessed January 2020).

United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg5 (accessed January 2020).

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)