Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived by birth within the country and from one’s parents. Child registration does not occur automatically at hospitals. Parents must register their child’s birth with a notary. The government conducts yearly campaigns to register children in the countryside and the NGO Plan Guinea-Bissau conducts registration outreach in the Bafata and Gabu regions. A World Bank survey from 2010 estimated that 24 percent of children were registered before the age of five. Lack of registration resulted in the denial of education at schools above secondary level, since school registration requires a birth certificate. However, this requirement was often waived for children in primary schools.
Child Abuse: Violence against children was widespread, but it was seldom reported to authorities. In March the Ministry of Justice signed a memorandum of agreement with the NGO Plan Guinea-Bissau to reinforce child protection and end violence against children.
Child Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage is 17. The UNFPA reported in 2010 that 22 percent of women ages 20-24 were married or in union before age 18. Child marriage occurred among all ethnic groups. Girls who fled arranged marriages often were trafficked into commercial sex. The buying and selling of child brides also reportedly occurred. Organizations such as the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund worked to provide legal, social, medical, and educational services to fight child marriage and protect its victims in some locations. A total of 144 communities, working with the NGO Tostan, publically declared their abandonment of child marriage.
Harmful Traditional Practices: Among certain ethnic groups, especially the Fula and Mandinka, FGM/C was performed on girls from as young as four months up to adolescence. According to a local NGO, more than 350,000 girls and women in the country were victims of FGM/C. UNICEF data from 2010 indicated 43.5 percent of girls and women age 15 to 19 were victimized.
On June 6, the National Assembly passed a law prohibiting FGM/C, which calls for violators to be punished with a fine of up to five million CFA francs ($10,100) and five years in prison. The law went into effect on July 6. In October a group of Muslim preachers and scholars passed a declaration calling for the eradication of FGM/C. The UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Program on FGM/C worked with the Ministry of Justice to strengthen the dissemination and application of the law by building the capacities of officials responsible for its implementation. They also supported the Attorney General’s Office, the police, and the Child Protection Service with bringing to trial four women who had practiced FGM/C in Bissau and the eastern part of the country. In November Ne di Ture was charged with performing FGM/C on a three-year-old girl. At year’s end she was awaiting trial. In December several villages made public declarations promising to end the practice of FGM/C after participating in a three-year human rights program with the NGO Tostan. Working with the NGO Tostan, 144 communities publicly declared their abandonment of FGM/C.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: There are no explicit penalties for child prostitution, but there is a statutory rape law prohibiting sex with a person less than 16 years old. The rape law carries a penalty of two to six years in prison. There is no law against child pornography. When pedophilia and sexual harassment were reported, police scolded victims. Sexual abuse by a family member was hidden by many families to avoid the shame of the community knowing that their child had been disgraced by their father or uncle. It was common for parents to give their child away to other family members or acquaintances that could provide better conditions and education for the child. Children in these types of situations often became more vulnerable to rape, abuse, and exploitation.
Displaced Children: The Child Protection Office of the Bissau Police Department estimated that 1,000 children were living on the streets of Bissau, with a growing number of boys engaged in gangs and petty crime. The government provided no services to street children.
International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.