Combined initial, second and third periodic report submitted on 6 March 2001 (CEDAW/C/GIN/1-3)
Sources: Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP), International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), World Factbook, US Department of State, Bureau of African Affairs. 
Political and Economic Context
Guinea gained independence from France in October 1958. Its leader, Sekou Toure, had rejected a path of gradual independence and autonomy from the French, the only West African leader to do so. Touré became a Soviet Union ally and when that relationship soured, he embraced the Maoist ideology, including the collectivization of farms. His agricultural policies — stating that all produce be delivered to state-run cooperative — led to “the market women’s revolt,” when market women rioted in Conakry.  This 1977 women’s revolt led to riots across the country and led to the relaxation of policies on private trade and the improvement of Guinea’s relations with France.
Following Touré’s death in 1984, the current Guinean President, Lassana Condé, a former army colonel, seized power. The elections of 1993 and 1998, both won by Condé, were controversial due to allegations of vote-rigging. The next presidential election is scheduled for 2003.
Guinea experienced a rise in civil conflict in late 2000 when dissidents — backed by rebels from the neighboring Sierra Leone — launched a series of cross-border attacks. In June 2001, tensions subsided and the presidents of Guinea and Sierra Leone agreed to reopen the road linking the countries’ capitals.  The conflict has exacerbated the refugee problem in the area: as they tried to flee the fighting, thousands of refugees from Sierra Leone and Liberia became trapped in the Southern Guinean border area. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan described the refugee situation in this region as one of the most serious in the world. 
President Condé invited the assistance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in restructuring country’s economy. The efforts to implement austerity measures have resulted in an improved situation for a few people, but the vast majority of the population has not benefited from these measures: Guinea consistently ranks at the bottom of global quality of life measurements. 
Press Freedom and Human Rights
Guinea has an active and varied private press, which emerged in early 1990s along with a multiparty political system.  Nevertheless, especially in the context of recent conflict in the region, the government has tightened its stance toward the independent media. Guinean journalists experience harassment and detention and have been forced into exile for their reporting. The Government has suspended or closed down independent publications.
Article 26 of the 1991 Press Code allows for a charge of sedition to be brought against newspaper publishers who refuse to disclose production and distribution of documents and schedules to authorities during elections, and Article 51 obligates reporters to reveal sources at the request of the state prosecutor’s office. This gives a great deal of leverage to the Government in censoring and controlling the media.. 
Failure to Protect Refugees
In 2000, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that the Guinean government incited attacks against refugees from Sierra Leone and Liberia. According to HRW, President Condé “made inflammatory public statements provoking attacks on refugees by Guinean police, soldier and civilian militias.” This led to widespread looting and beatings of refugees. HRW documented many instances of rape and sexual assaults on refugee women by collecting testimonies of victims and witnesses. 
SITUATION OF WOMEN IN GUINEA UNDER SPECIFIC CEDAW ARTICLES:
CONVENTION ARTICLE 1-5
DEFINITION OF DISCRIMINATION; OBLIGATIONS TO ELIMINATE DISCRIMINATION; THE DEVELOPMENT AND ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN; EQUALITY BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN; and SEX ROLES AND STEREOTYPING
Constitutional Guaranties of Equality
The Constitution provides for equal treatment of men and women and guarantees the equality of women and men before the law. The Preamble recognizes "the equality and solidarity of all nationals without distinction of ... sex." Article 1 ensures "equality before the law for all citizens, without distinction of ... sex." Article 8 further provides that "[m]en and women have the same rights."  The Ministry of Social Affairs and Women's Promotion was established to promote the advancement of equality. The Constitution does not, however, explicitly prohibit gender-based discrimination.
Despite these legal equality provisions, women face discrimination throughout the society. In rural areas their opportunities are even more limited as social relations are typically more heavily influenced by custom and tradition, and women have to meet the demands of both child-rearing and subsistence farming.  The Government has prepared a working plan to analyze the situation of women and children, which involves workshops and training for security and judicial personnel, as well as community education.  It remains to be seen whether the program is implemented and its ultimate impact on societal perceptions and traditions related to gender roles.
Pressure to Marry
According to a survey among urban youth in Guinea, young women — especially those who do not attend school and who are employed in the informal sector — are expected to marry early. They are seen by families as an economic burden and expected to marry in order to reduce the cost of feeding and clothing them. "She has eaten enough rice" is a typical parental statement.  Many young women feel highly pressured to find a husband.  If a young woman refuses a marriage candidate who presents himself at her parents’ home and ask them to marry her, parents pressure and reproach the daughter. 
CONVENTION ARTICLE 6
EXPLOITATION OF WOMEN
The law prohibits trafficking in persons, but NGOs have reported that women and children are trafficked within the country, as well as internationally, for the sex trade and illegal labor. Accurate statistics are difficult to obtain, because victims do not report the crime due to fear for their personal safety. The Government does not monitor these practices. 
As a result of poverty and limited opportunities to find income, women and girls often turn to prostitution to survive. Many women refugees who arrive in Conakry from the neighboring countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia, find themselves forced into prostitution for the lack of other ways to find income. Despite reports of minors as young as 14 years old working as prostitutes, the government has taken no action to curb the practice. The government does not monitor or have any plan to combat either child or adult prostitution. 
CONVENTION ARTICLE 7
POLITICAL AND PUBLIC LIFE
Women are underrepresented in government and politics. Four women hold seats in the 26-member Cabinet in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Tourism, and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Promotion of Women. There are nine female deputies in the 114-member National Assembly. Very few women occupy senior level positions in ministries, and there are no women in the senior ranks of the armed forces. Women play a minor role in the leadership of the major political parties. 
CONVENTION ARTICLE 10
Campaign for Girls’ Education
In the early 1990s, the Ministry of Education began, with USAID support, a social awareness campaign focusing on the promotion of education for girls. Religious and other respected community leaders have been recruited to encourage parents to send their children — both girls and boys — to school. Education promoters have been traveling to the 18 most disadvantaged provinces to bring together and mobilize people from throughout each community — local officials, religious leaders, parents, teachers, children and young people — to discuss educational issues. 
The campaign has received a strong support from business, media and religious leaders, who have contributed time and financial resources to girls' education. TV spots, as well as a series of articles and coverage of girls' education in four national newspapers, opened the dialogue on girls' schooling. The campaign has used radio by broadcasting on six rural radio stations in local languages, programs encouraging girls’ education and advocating a change for girls.  Rural radio stations have broadcast educational discussions in local languages targeting community leaders, teachers, parents and young girls. Business sponsors have provided technical and financial support. For example, Barry & Freres, a local food distributor, has included messages about girls' education on its delivery trucks and in its national advertising campaign. Religious leaders have spoken at public events and on the national radio, citing texts from the Qur'an in support of girls' education. Contests have been held nationally to create songs and plays that promote girls' education.  Guinea celebrated its first National Girls' Education Day on 21 June 1999, with well-known community leaders broadcasting over national radio and TV. Madame Sultan (a widely respected pioneer for independence) said in her speech, "Those of us from the old generation who had the chance to go to school know that that's what enabled us to understand life, and we have understood the necessity of schooling children in general, and young girls in particular." 
The awareness campaign — along with a major restructuring of the education system to focus on primary education — has led to substantial results throughout the country: The percentage of girls enrolled in school more than doubled and it outpaced the substantial increase in boys' enrollment. For the first time since the early 1980s, the gap between girls and boys has begun to narrow. Guinea has been increasing girls' enrollment in primary schools by 16 percent annually, and currently it ranks first among all African countries in the rote of sustained increase in girls' school enrollment. Nonetheless, the increasing enrollment rates do not tell the whole story: a huge gender gap remains in school enrollment, with one girl attending school for every two boys. Because of their household responsibilities, girls still drop out at a greater rate than boys, and fewer girls do well in school. In 1997, only 57 percent of Guinean girls reached the final year of primary school (compared to 73 percent for boys), and only 33 percent of girls who took the seventh grade entry exam passed it (compared to 44 percent for boys). 
CONVENTION ARTICLE 11
The Government has affirmed the principle of equal pay for equal work; however, in practice women receive less pay than men in most equally demanding jobs.  They predominate in low paying positions and do much of the work in the informal sector. Despite official support for women’s employment, the Government has made statements that contradict that stance and advocate discriminatory practices in employment. For example, in February 2000, President Condé remarked in a speech that there were too many women in the customs service, and then he gave instructions to recruit only men for the customs service jobs. 
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Despite statements against sexual harassment made by the Government in the media, the practice is very common: women employed in the formal sector in urban areas report many instances of sexual harassment. 
CONVENTION ARTICLE 12
HEALTH CARE AND FAMILY PLANNING
School Expulsions Due to Pregnancy
Schools expel girls who become pregnant unless they are married. However, they are allowed to return to school after delivery. Sometimes, pregnant girls search for a marriage partner to protect themselves from expulsion. 
Contraceptive Knowledge and Use
Contraceptive use in Guinea among general population is low: in 1992, 6 percent of all women and 12 percent of all men had ever used a modern contraceptive method. The situation is much better among youth, as about half of the sexually active, unmarried, young people report using a modern contraceptive method. 
A survey among adolescents in Guinea demonstrated that only about one-quarter knew that the first sexual intercourse can result in pregnancy. Asked about methods that can be used to prevent pregnancy, 70 percent of sexually active youth indicated the condom, 54 percent abstinence, 51 percent the pill and 29 percent coitus interruptus. However, about one in ten respondents cited ineffective methods or said they did not know.  Among sexually active respondents, 29 percent reported having used the condom, 20 percent the calendar method and 14 percent the pill. More than half (53 percent) had never used any method or were not sure whether their partner had. Rates of never-use were much higher among out-of-school youth than among students.  But even among students the level of information is largely insufficient, especially among girls, who are more at risk.
Modern contraceptives frequently are regarded with suspicion, because of perceived biological and social side effects — primarily that they cause infertility and enable young women to frequently change sexual partners or even engage in prostitution without fear of pregnancy. The condom is often mentioned, though mainly in relation to disease prevention or for individuals who do not trust their partner or who engage in one-night stands  .
The menstrual cycle plays an important role in discussions on pregnancy prevention. But the concept of the regularity of the menstrual cycle is often misunderstood to mean that a woman's period will begin on the same date every month (for example, the fifth of January, the fifth of February and so on). 
Premarital Pregnancy and Abortion
Premarital pregnancies are widespread in part because young people have unprotected sex, owing to either ignorance or a lack of accessible services. As described above, high premium is placed on fertility and there is a deeply rooted fear of infertility, which makes young people susceptible to rumors about the side effects of contraceptives. In addition, young men may view modern method use as a threat to their control within their relationships and therefore tend to oppose these methods. 
Abortion is illegal in Guinea except for cases when it is necessary for therapeutic reasons. Given the high rate of sexual activity among the youth, young women are exposed to the risk of premarital pregnancies and resulting negative consequences, including unsafe abortions. 
Surveys indicate that 25 percent of sexually active young women reported having been pregnant. The pregnancy rate increases with age, but the rate does not differ across ethnic or religious groups. Twenty to 24-year-old women who were in school had a higher pregnancy rate than their out-of-school counterparts. Of the young women who had ever been pregnant, 22 percent reported having had an induced abortion. 
Young men and women in Guinea consider a premarital pregnancy a major threat to a young woman's well-being — a pregnant young woman will likely be ridiculed by peers and teachers, and may face severe punishment at home — An adolescent's father may regard her mother as responsible for guarding a young woman's chastity, the mother may be punished as well. Despite these disadvantages, many women, especially those aged 20-24, feel pressured to find a spouse or to prove their fertility. 
Authors of one study on sexual activity and knowledge among adolescents in Guinea, recommend that it is important to create awareness among parents and other influential adults that many young people engage in sexual activity outside marriage; that pressure to marry is detrimental to young women's education; that contraceptive use prevents pregnancies and abortions, and that safe abortions save lives. Such an effective school-based program should start in primary school, prior to the onset of sexual activity, and should go far beyond providing anatomical, physiological and biomedical information about sex and contraception. It should be gender-specific in stressing men’s responsibility regarding women, and females' self-esteem and negotiation skills. 
The authors of the study rejected the view, that is often expressed by opponents of sex education, that in-school contraceptive or sexuality education programs have a limited impact because they cover only a small proportion of youths in need. The study found that students have a strong link to out-of-school youths, and that male students in particular are often the first partners of young women who are not in school. Therefore, well-informed students could play an important role in educating their peers and partners who are not students. 
Access to Family Planning Services
Fewer than 100 health centers out of 378 in the country offer family planning services. The Government supports family planning. The government has appointed the Guinean Association for Family Welfare (AGBEF; Association Guinéenne pour le Bien-Etre Familial) to work with the government on implementation of the national health policy. The Government launched the National Population Policy in 1992, and the Ministry of Health was charged with responsibility to draft guidelines on the integration of family planning in maternal and child health activities.  In addition, other organizations involved in family planning include national women's groups which facilitate women's mobilization and sensitization on family planning throughout the country. The national youth organization conducts family life education activities through UNESCO youth clubs. The national workers organization sensitizes workers on the advantages of family planning. In response to the country's unmet health needs, the Guinean Government with the assistance of foreign donors is implementing a vast population and family health program. 
One of the main obstacles to the success of family planning programs in Guinea is male resistance, as well as attachment to traditional norms and religious conservatism in many communities. In addition, because of poor communication infrastructure throughout the country, some remote communities have limited access to family planning information and services.  Therefore, an intensified effort on the part of the Government is necessary to ensure that all country’s communities are reached by these campaigns.
Prostitution and HIV/AIDS
Women and girls who work as prostitutes find themselves at a higher risk of contracting HIV/AIDS (prostitution is an acknowledged risk factor for HIV/AIDS). In Guinea, where the rate of HIV/AIDS is considered fairly low in general population and stands at 4.1 percent (1997), among prostitutes it stands at 37 percent.  There is no effort to screen and target this high risk population for awareness programs.
CONVENTION ARTICLES 15 and 16
EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW and
EQUALITY IN MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LAW
Guinea has a multiple legal system, consisting of statutory law based on the French Civil Code, customary practices, and Islamic law. Customary and Islamic systems are highly discriminatory in most respects, and Guinea apparently has yet to address this issue. According to various reports, the inheritance law favors male over female heirs, and legal evidence given by women carries less weight than that given by men..  The legal system and custom also discriminate against women in matters of marriage and divorce. Reportedly, officials acknowledge that polygamy is commonly practiced. Moreover, divorce laws tend to favor men in awarding custody and dividing common marriage assets. 
GENERAL RECOMMENDATION # 19
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Estimates of the prevalence of domestic violence vary, but all conclude that violence is widespread. There is no sustained effort to compile statistics on domestic violence. Wife beating is punishable under criminal law and constitutes grounds for divorce under civil law, but the law is ineffective as police and the enforcement system are reluctant to intervene in domestic disputes and such interventions are rare. 
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)/Female Genital Cutting (FGC)
FGC/FGM is a deeply-rooted traditional practice. Although estimates as to its prevalence vary widely and some note that the practice is declining, most experts believe that between 65 and 90 percent of women in Guinea still undergo the procedure.  Except for women who live in the forest region, most girls in Guinea experience FGC before they are 12 years old. In these regions, the most dangerous form of FGM/FGC, the infibulation, continues to be practiced.  FGC is generally obligatory for young girls among the Sosso and the Fulani ethnic groups and, to a lesser extent, among the Malinke. FGC is increasingly practiced within the medical system, but many deaths still result from use of crude and unsanitary surgical instruments. 
The practice of FGM/FGC is punishable under the criminal law in Guinea. Article 265 of Guinea's Penal Code (PC), which defines the offense of "castration," criminalizes genital mutilation and provides that: “castration is the ablation or the mutilation of the genital organs of either a man or a woman; and that any person guilty of this crime shall be sentenced to the punishment of hard labor for life (perpetuite).” If death results within 40 days after the crime, the perpetrator will be sentenced to death.  FGC/FGM is also prohibited under Articles 259-262 and Article 264 of the PC, which pertain to assault. Article 264 relates specifically to "wounds or strikes" intentionally inflicted upon a child of 15 years or younger that result in the "mutilation, amputation or privation of the use of a member" or in unintended death. The terms "wounds," "strikes" and "mutilation" are not defined in the PC. These actions are punishable with hard labor for a fixed term, or, if the offender is a parent or other ascendant relative or any other person having authority over the child, the punishment is hard labor for life. 
Furthermore, the Constitution protects the rights to life and physical integrity. Article 5 provides that the "person and the dignity of man are sacred. The State has the duty to respect and protect them." Article 6 guarantees the rights to "life and physical integrity." Article 15 guarantees the "right to health and physical well-being" and charges the state with the "duty to promote the public health."  The Constitution also states that the exercise of fundamental rights and liberties must conform to the law. According to Article 22, "[t]he law shall only set limits on these rights and liberties which are indispensable to the maintenance of public order and democracy."  Children are afforded special protections under the Constitution. Article 16 states that "[p]arents have the right and the duty to assure the education and the physical and moral health of their children." Article 21 requires the state to "create conditions and institutions which permit each child to develop." 
Despite all these legal provisions, no one has ever been criminally prosecuted for FGC/FGM. The term "castration," defined in Article 265 cited above, has generally been interpreted to include only castration of men, despite the provision's clear inclusion of females as potential victims of the crime. 
Efforts to Combat FGM/FGC
The government of Guinea has adopted a clear position in regard to FGC/FGM. In 1989, the government issued a declaration, referring to the constitutional guarantee of the right to physical integrity (see above section) condemning harmful traditional practices, such as FGC/FGM.  In collaboration with the World Health Organization, the government has initiated a twenty-year (1996-2015) strategy to eliminate FGC/FGM. It is supposed to build upon existing efforts to combat FGC/FGM through coordination with non-governmental organizations, particularly in the process of public education. Some concrete measures to fight the practice were taken in April 1999 when the government launched a variety of activities as part of the consciousness raising campaign against FGC/FGM in collaboration with nongovernmental organizations. For example, radio programs supportive of the campaign were broadcast with the financial support of the government.  However, IWRAW does not have knowledge of other activities under the program and whether the campaign continues at this time.
In addition, in 1984 a group of volunteers founded an organization called Coordination Unit on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (Cellule de coordination sur les pratiques traditionelles affectant la sante des femmes et des enfants; CPTAFE) to combat the practice. CPTAFE is the Guinean branch of the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children, a non-governmental organization founded in Dakar in 1984. In addition to organizing training sessions on FGC for traditional birth attendants (TBA) and awareness workshops for government workers and other interested parties, CPTAFE has produced four videos and a play, and continues to develop messages broadcast on Guinean radio and television. CPTAFE advocated for the official condemnation of FGC and generated the proposal that was adopted by the government in 1989 as part of the campaign to combat the practice of FGC/FGM." 
Cultural Attitudes Toward FGC/FGM
Surveys consistently show that considerable societal support for FGC/FGM continues, especially outside the urban areas. FGC is seen as part of girls’ preparation for adulthood. For instance, many women regard FGC as an acceptable practice that purifies and socializes unmarried girls through the education and training they receive during ritual seclusion. The majority of men are also of the opinion that FGC should continue. Men consider the practice to be “women's business,” but many see a relationship between FGC and their wives' proper behavior. On the other hand, there is an indication that these attitudes may be changing: younger women, particularly those living in urban areas, are less accepting and much more critical of the practice. 
ACTIONS TAKEN BY OTHER UN HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS PERTAINING TO WOMEN’S HUMAN RIGHTS:
Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Guinea. 12/04/2001. CERD/C/304/Add.86.
No recommendations concerning women were issued by this Committee.
Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Guinea. 10/05/99. CRC/C/15/Add.100.
Main subjects of concern and recommendations:
· the lack of a systematic, comprehensive and disaggregated quantitative and qualitative data-collection mechanism for all areas covered by the Convention, especially the most hidden, such as child abuse or ill-treatment, but also in relation to all vulnerable groups of children, including girls, children with disabilities, children living in rural areas, children living in poverty, children born out of wedlock, children victims of sale, trafficking and prostitution and refugee children.
· the different minimum legal ages for marriage for boys (18) and girls (16), a practice contrary to the principles and provisions of the Convention. The Committee recommends that the State party increase the minimum legal ages for marriage and undertake awareness-raising campaigns on the negative effects of early marriage.
· insufficient measures have been adopted to ensure the full enjoyment by all children of the rights recognized in the Convention, in particular in relation to matters of inheritance, as well as access to education and health services; the situation of vulnerable groups of children, such as girl children, children with disabilities, children living in rural areas, children living in poverty, refugee children and children born out of wedlock.
· the insufficient awareness and lack of information on ill-treatment and abuse, including sexual abuse, both within and outside the family, and at the insufficient legal protection measures, resources and trained personnel to prevent and combat such abuse.
· the prevalence of malnutrition, as well as the limited access to health services, especially in rural areas; the persistence of health problems related to insufficient access to safe water and sanitation.
· the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and its direct and indirect effects on children; recommends that programmes relating to the incidence and treatment of children infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS should be reinforced.
· limited impact of governmental measures to eradicate the practice of female genital mutilation and other harmful traditional practices affecting the health of girls. Strengthen measures to combat and eradicate the persistent practice of female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to the health of the girl child; continue carrying out sensitization programmes for practitioners of female genital mutilation and other harmful practices.
· high and increasing rate of early pregnancy, the high maternal mortality rate and the lack of access by teenagers to reproductive health education and services. Undertake comprehensive and multidisciplinary study to understand the scope of adolescent health problems, including the negative impact of early pregnancy; promote adolescent health policies and programmes by strengthening reproductive health education and counseling services.
· the persistence of high school drop-out, repetition, absenteeism and illiteracy rates, as well as the low enrollment rate and limited access to education in rural areas. Concern is also expressed at the shortage of trained teachers, insufficient school infrastructure and equipment, and gender disparities in school attendance. Undertake all appropriate measures to improve access to education, especially for the most vulnerable groups of children and to reinforce training programmes for teaching personnel.
· the large number of children who are involved in labour activities, including in the informal sector, in agriculture and in the family context.
· the absence of data and of a comprehensive study on the issue of sexual exploitation of children. Undertake studies with a view to designing and implementing appropriate policies and measures, including care and rehabilitation, to prevent and combat the sexual exploitation of children; reinforce its legislative framework to protect children fully from all forms of sexual abuse or exploitation, including within the family..
· the increasing phenomenon of trafficking and sale of children into neighboring countries for work or prostitution; the insufficient measures to prevent and combat this phenomenon. Review its legal framework and reinforce law enforcement, and strengthen its efforts to raise awareness in communities, in particular in rural areas; cooperate with neighboring countries through bilateral agreements to prevent cross-border trafficking encouraged.
Concluding observations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Guinea. 28/05/96. E/C.12/1/Add.5.
Main subjects of concern:
· unequal treatment of men and women is increasing, particularly in the informal sector of the economy. The Committee therefore invites the Guinean Government to take steps on a national level to implement the principle of "equal pay for equal work", which derives from the principle of non-discrimination against women proclaimed in the Covenant, ILO Convention No. 111 and the 1990 Constitution.
· many children work on farms, in small businesses and as street vendors. According to the Committee, observance of the Covenant requires that the Government implement the Labour Code provisions prohibiting child labour under the age of 16.
· the cases of domestic violence against women.
· the persistent practice of female genital mutilation, which has serious consequences on the physical, psychological and social health of women. Women are also among the first victims of the AIDS virus. Concerning children, the mortality rate remains high.
· the Guinean Government has not given enough priority in the structural adjustment agreement to schooling and education; discrimination against women is on the rise, which is apparent from the adult illiteracy rate, access to education and the school drop-out rate among girls.
Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee: Guinea. 29/04/93. CCPR/C/79/Add.20.
No recommendations concerning women were issued by this Committee.
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