Benin

Population Size:

11,801,151.[1] 49.3% are male, 50.7% are female.

Number of People Experiencing Domestic Abuse Each Year:

2019-2020: 13.9% of women reported having experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner.[2]

2013-2014: “28% of all women in sub-Saharan Africa reported experiencing violence … at the hands of their partners or family. This includes women subjected to beatings, forced marriage at an early age, sexual assault, “honour” crimes and female genital mutilation”.[3]

No research on male victims or other gender identities.

Cost of Domestic Abuse to the Economy Each Year:

No research.

Estimated % Change due to COVID-19:

Suspected increase in line with UNFPA projections.[4]


Current Law and Policy:

Since passing the Act on the Prevention and Repression of Violence Against Women in January 2012, Benin has made no further commitments to tackling domestic violence. There was a lack of information about Benin’s more recent approach to domestic violence with most of the literature dating back to 2014.

The 2012 Act is fairly comprehensive and defines ‘domestic abuse’ broadly. Victims can seek recourse under the Act despite not having a formal or familial relationship with the perpetrator. If the case does, in fact, concern a domestic relationship, the perpetrator is punishable by an additional 5 to 10 years. The Act also requires the provision of emergency shelters and services for victims, as well as awareness-raising and education campaigns.

Despite this legislative progress, domestic violence is still prevalent in Benin. Women are reluctant to report instances of abuse due to fear of retaliation and social stigma, whilst many still see such “disputes” as a family matter. Traditional beliefs, perceptions and practices have led to domestic abuse being not just widely accepted but deeply rooted in many Beninese communities’. To put it into perspective, 69% of Beninese women surveyed in 2009, had suffered domestic abuse at least once in their life.[5]

In 2014, Benin recognised its “very poor enforcement of the legislation to promote women’s rights and gender equality” in the country. This is backed up by the fact that only a limited number of domestic abuse cases make it to court and reports that both the judiciary and the police are reluctant to intervene in domestic disputes. The police have also been criticised for not encouraging women to lodge complaints, which serves to reiterate the sentiment that Benin’s society rejects women who report domestic violence. The ineffectiveness of the police combined with official corruption and victims’ unwillingness to report cases has prevented any real enforcement of the 2012 Act from taking place.


Frontline Services:

 

Sources


[1] The World Bank, (1).

[2] UN Women, “Global Database on Violence Against Women – Benin”, (evaw-global-database.unwomen.org).

[3] See B. Lomborg, “Why Domestic Violence Costs More Than War”, (weforum.org, 19 September 2014).

[4] UNFPA, “Millions More Cases of Violence, Child Marriage, Female Genital Mutilation, Unintended Pregancy Expected due to the COVID-19 Pandemic”, (unfpa.org, 28 April 2020).

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6097337/


Further Reading


[1] International Centre for Research on Women, “Costs of Intimate Partner Violence at the Household and Community Levels – An Operational Framework for Developing Countries”, (2004), Report, 5.

[2] Refworld, “Benin: Domestic Violence, including Availability of State Protection and Support Services (2009-2015)”, (refworld.org, 9 February 2016).

[3] OECD, “Benin”, (2019), Social Institutions and Gender Index.

[4] BMC Women’s Health, “Perception of Beninese on Intimate Partner Violence: Evidence from 2011-2012 Benin Demographic Health Survey”, (ncbi.nhm.nih.gov, 16 August 2018).

[5] United States Department of State, “2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – Benin”, (2018), Report.