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    Legislation and other national provisions:
Bahrain, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi

Country-specific information on the current state of national legislation dealing directly or indirectly with the issue of female genital mutulation reproduces the contents of the official communications received to date from national parliaments. Other reliable information, contained in the documents published by the United Nations and the World Health Organization, is also taken into consideration. Whenever necessary, it is specified that the IPU has not received any official information directly.

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  • Current status: Female genital mutilation is not practiced in Bahrain.
  • Legislation: There are no laws or legislation that regulate such practices.
  • Operational structure: Not applicable.
Updated on 7 February 2006
  • Current status: Female genital mutilation affects girls and women from certain immigrant populations. However, the IPU has no first-hand official statistics or other details on this subject.
  • Legislation: Article 29 of the Law of 28 November 2000 on the penal protection of minors provides as follows:
    Article 409 of this same Code, abrogated by the Law of 9 April 1930, has been reintroduced with the following wording:
    "Article 409- § 1. Anyone who practises, facilitates or promotes any form of mutilation of the genital organs of a person of the female sex, with or without the latter's consent, shall be punished by three to five years' imprisonment. Any such attempt shall be punished by imprisonment lasting between eight days and one year.
    § 2. If the mutilation is practised by a minor or to make a profit, the punishment shall be five to seven years' hard labour.
    § 3. When the mutilation has caused an illness which appears incurable or a permanent work-related disability, the punishment shall be five to ten years' hard labour.
    § 4. When the mutilation practised without any intention of causing death nevertheless causes death, the punishment shall be ten to fifteen years' hard labour.
    § 5. If the mutilation referred to in § 1 has been practised on a minor or a person who, owing to her physical or mental state, was not able to look after herself, by her father, mother or other ascendants, any other person with authority or custody over the minor or incapacitated person, or any person who cohabits occasionally or habitually with the victim, the minimum punishment provided for in §§ 1 to 4 shall be doubled in the case of imprisonment and increased by two years in the case of hard labour."
  • Operational structure: The IPU has no information on this subject.
  • Other information: In March 2004, the Belgian Senate unanimously adopted a resolution on genital mutilation (Ref. 3-523/2). In its resolution, the Senate:
    1. Asks the Government and the Minister of Justice in particular to ensure that those responsible for genital mutilation in the foreign communities in Belgium are prosecuted in the country;
    2. Recommends that the Government, and in particular the Minister for Cooperation, make all political, diplomatic and economic efforts to eradicate and prohibit female genital mutilation in the countries where it is still practiced, and in particular in countries where Belgian development aid is concentrated;
    3. Asks the Government, and in particular the Minister of the Interior and the Department of Federal Immigration, to take into consideration the threat posed by female genital mutilation for women and children seeking asylum in our country;
    4. Proposes to the Government to develop awareness programmes for immigrant populations through education and information on the danger of these practices, and to convince them that they can abandon such traditions, which are incompatible with our concept of a State based on the rule of law, with a deep-seated respect for human rights;
    5. Requests the Government, and in particular the Ministers competent for social affairs and equality of opportunity, to take into consideration and to actively encourage migrant women's associations working against female genital mutilation, in the light of their important activities in the fields of information and prevention, and also to ensure consultation with the affected communities;
    6. Requests the Minister of Cooperation to provide for a programme to combat genital mutilation and to convert excisers to other activities in each country where Belgium has cooperation programmes.
Updated on 14 December 2005
  • Current status: A study undertaken by the National Committee on Harmful Traditional Practices in 1993 indicated a prevalence of 50%. FGM is practised mainly in the northern region, in the provinces of Atacora, Borgou and Zou. It is virtually non-existent in the provinces of Atlantic and Mono. The main ethnic groups practising FGM include the Bariba, Boko, Nago, Peul and Wama. The procedure is most commonly carried out between the ages of 5 and 10, although among the Nago it is often undertaken in adult women after they have already given birth several times. Circumcision is the most common form reported. However, the IPU has no first-hand official statistics or other details on this subject.
  • Legislation: Law No. 2003-3 on repression of the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the Republic of Benin.
    - Article 1: The purpose of this law is to outlaw female genital mutilation in the Republic of Benin.
    - Article 2: All types of female genital mutilation performed by anyone, in whatever capacity, are prohibited.
    - Article 3: Under the present law, female genital mutilation is defined as partial or total ablation of the external genital organs of persons of the female gender and/or all other surgery performed on these organs.
    Surgery on these organs that has been medically prescribed is excluded from this category.
    - Article 4: Any person who has performed a genital mutilation of any kind on a person of the female gender is liable to imprisonment for a term of six months to three years and to a fine of one hundred thousand to two million francs.
    - Article 5: When genital mutilation is performed on a minor under the age of 18, the perpetrator is liable to imprisonment for a term of three to five years and a fine not exceeding three million francs.
    - Article 6: If a victim dies, the offender is liable to five to twenty years of forced labour and to a fine of three million to six million francs.
    - Article 7: Any person who has helped, assisted, or requested the services of an FGM practitioner, or given him/her instructions or the means to perform a genital mutilation, will be considered an accomplice and is liable to the same sentence as the main perpetrator of the act.
    - Article 8: In the event of second offense, the maximum sentence will be applied without possibility of suspension.
    - Article 9: Any person who, having been informed of that a female genital mutilation was being planned, did nothing to prevent the act will be prosecuted for failure to render assistance and will be sentenced in accordance with the relevant provisions of the criminal code.
    Any person who is aware of an act of female genital mutilation is required to report the fact immediately to the nearest State prosecutor or police criminal investigation department for legal purposes.
    Failure to report is punishable by a fine of fifty thousand to one hundred thousand francs.
    - Article 10: Both public and private health services are required to receive victims of female genital mutilations and to provide them with the appropriate medical attention.
    They shall inform the nearest State prosecutor or police criminal investigation department for legal purposes.
    - Article 11: The present law shall be enforced as State law.
  • Operational structure: National Committee on Harmful Traditional Practices.
  • Other information: The Government authorises the distribution of information in hospitals and conducts awareness-building campaigns in rural areas.
    In May 2002, the Government launched a major awareness campaign in the northern part of the country.
    Excision practitioners’ fees are said to vary from 4,200 and 10,000 CFA per operation, depending on the region.
  • Current status: Female genital mutilation reportedly does not exist in Botswana. However, the IPU has no first-hand official information on this subject.
  • Legislation: The IPU has no information on the existence of specific legislation.
  • Operational structure: not applicable.
  • Current status: Female genital mutilation is reportedly not practised in Bulgaria. However, the IPU has no first-hand official information on this subject.
  • Legislation: There is no legislation dealing directly with female genital mutilation.
    - Article 6(2) of the Constitution, 12 July 1991, states as follows: "All citizens shall be equal before the law. There shall be no privileges or restrictions of rights on the grounds of race, nationality, ethnic self-identity, sex, origin, religion, education, opinion, political affiliation, personal or social status or property status."
    - Article 8(3) of the Code of Labour of 1 April 1986, also refers to gender equality at work.
    - The CEDAW ratified by Bulgaria on 18 September 1981.
  • Operational structure: not applicable.
Updated on 2 June 2002
  • Current status: According to a national survey conducted in 1996, the prevalence of the practice was estimated at 66.35%. According to WHO, the prevalence was 72% in 1998/99. Excision is more common in rural areas than urban areas. Depending on the province, excision is practised very heavily or exclusively in 14 of the 45 provinces of Burkina Faso: Kénédougou, Yatenga, Sanmatenga, Comoé, Bougouriba, Poni, Bam, Soum, Ganzourgou, Gnagna, Kouritenga, Namentenga, Sourou, Zoundwéogo. Removal of the clitoris and of the labia minora is the most common form. Excision is performed between 0 and 7 years but is increasingly performed on 7-day-old infant girls so that they will not remember the pain. A prospective study covering a single year showed that complications caused by female genital mutilation accounted for 7.3% of out-patient consultations in gynaecology and that the majority of these complications appeared between 15 and 24 years of age (36 cases out of 49). The main grounds for consultation were dyspareunia or the inability to have sexual intercourse (30 cases out of 49).
  • Legislation: Penal Code
    Article 380 – Anyone who harms the female genital organs by total ablation, excision, infibulation, desensitisation or any other means shall be punishable by six months to three years' imprisonment and a fine ranging from CFA francs 150,000 to 900,000 or by one of these two punishments only. Should this result in death, the punishment shall be five to ten years' imprisonment.
    Article 381 – The maximum punishment shall be meted out if the guilty party is a member of the medical or paramedical profession. Moreover, he or she may be disbarred from practice by the courts for up to five years.
    Article 382 – Any person who is aware of acts as defined by Article 380 and who fails to notify the competent authorities shall be punishable by a fine ranging from CFA francs 50,000 to 100,000.
    Repression is viewed as a strategy designed to complement awareness-building activities. Court statistics reveal that the average sentence for excision practitioners is two to three months' imprisonment with no possibility of remission with a maximum fine of CFA francs 100,000. The number of cases is relatively low: 43 trials between January and October 2001.
  • Operational structure:
    - The National Excision Control Committee. Created on a temporary basis in October 1988, in 1990, further to a presidential decree, this body became an interministerial structure tasked with gradually eliminating the practice of excision in Burkina Faso once and for all. It brings together in an institutional framework the representatives of various ministries, associations, NGOs, youth and human rights movements, tribal leaders and religious communities. It is under the administrative supervision of the Ministry of Social Action and National Solidarity and is self-managing. Activities are carried out in the 45 provinces and include the following: information, education and awareness-building; training; remedial care for harmful after-effects; research; advocacy, follow-up, evaluation and supervision. Awareness-building activities include seminars in all 45 provinces, deterrence and awareness-building patrols by 18 constabulary brigades in 14 provinces (Kadiogo, Oubritenga, Sanmatenga, Séno, Bam, Yatenga, Sourou, Mouhoun, Kossi, Houet, Kénédougou, Léraba, Comoé and Poni), information, education and communication stands on excision at special events such as the celebration of World Population Day, National Culture Week, the Ouagadougou International Crafts Fair, the preparation and translation into the national languages of awareness-building aids (posters, stickers, films, etc.). Training activities target opinion leaders, reluctant members of the public, young people in the formal and informal sectors, female excision practitioners and victims from all social and socio-professional categories in urban and rural areas: such activities have already reached more than 52% of the population through radio, television, the written press, films, talk sessions, counselling, etc. The persons concerned by the Committee's training activities include the following: traditional chiefs, religious leaders, social and health workers, teachers, moderators, press officers, constables, policemen, women members of female women's village groups, women's associations, magistrates, lawyers, women leaders of political parties, senior administrative officials, heads of Islamic organisations, delegates from dioceses and pastors of Protestant churches. The Committee works together with Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal within the framework of a sub-regional council on traditional health-endangering practices. Further to a question put in Parliament and at the initiative of the women MPs, in December 2001, the National Assembly allocated an additional sum of CFA francs 20 million to the National Committee to assist it in executing its programme of action.
    - Following a training seminar, tribal leaders undertook to set up a support committee to carry out awareness-building activities throughout the country at the cantonal and village level.
    - Likewise, Islamic associations set up a support committee which carried out awareness-building activities in the mosques and other public places throughout the country with the support of 205 preachers who were given special training and who strive to demystify the religious basis for the practice of excision.
  • National plan of action: The National Excision Control Committee operates on the basis of action plans adopted by the council of ministers which constitute documents for guiding and planning activities. Implementation is carried out on the basis of a five-point strategy: (i) integration of the Committee's activities in all sectors of the population; (ii) decentralisation of excision control efforts with the identification and involvement of resource persons capable of supporting such efforts; (iii) cooperation with institutions working in the field of the promotion of women and children's rights and regular coordination with all categories of actors in the field; (iv) support for research on topics relating to female genital mutilation; (v) coordination, evaluation and follow-up/evaluation of activities carried out.
  • Other information:
    - Fifteen people have been sentenced in five trials.
    - Te third National Day for the fight against excision (the initiative was launched in 2000) was held on 18 May 2002; its theme was on the involvement of communities in this fight.
  • Current status: Female genital mutilation is reportedly not practised in Burundi. However, the IPU has no first-hand official information on this subject.
  • Legislation: The IPU has no information on the existence of specific legislation.
  • Operational structure: not applicable.