This report updates the COI Focus of 17 June 2015 on female genital mutilation (FGM) in Ivory Coast.
It does not claim to be exhaustive and is not intended as a statistical or sociological study. Research for this report was closed on 9 October 2019.
According to a 2016 demographic and health survey in Ivory Coast (MICS 2016), a little less than two women out of five (36,7 %) aged between 15 and 49 have undergone FGM. Among girls aged 0 to 14, one out of ten (10,9 %) has undergone FGM according to the same survey.
Among these women and girls, who are mainly found in the north and north-west, the most frequent forms of FGM involve the removal of flesh, often at a very early age (before 5).
The lower a family’s wealth index quintile, the more FGM tends to be practiced. Likewise, in families in the lowest wealth index quintile, 14,1 % of girls from 0 to 14 have been cut, whereas they are only 2,8% in families in the highest wealth index quintile. The MICS also shows differences between ethnic groups and religious communities.
Parents choose to have FGM performed on their daughter in order to conform to the expectations of their community and to follow cultural norms. This allows them to maintain their social standing and family cohesion. However, a survey conducted in 2013 by academic and ministerial authorities in six départements where FGM is especially prevalent shows that most of the participants in the survey, in both urban and rural areas, do not see any advantage linked to FGM.
A majority of sources contacted by Cedoca stated that the father has the final say regarding FGM for his daughter. Although he does not take part in the ceremony itself, the father provides the financial and material means that are necessary for the ceremony.
According to sources contacted by Cedoca, the fact that a girl is cut or uncut is more generally known in rural areas than in towns. In rural communities, FGM is generally performed during a ceremony gathering girls of the same age, whereas in urban areas, FGM is generally carried out much more discreetly.
The main risk for an uncut girl in a community where FGM is strongly prevalent, is stigmatization by her community. An uncut girl and her family risk losing their social position, being insulted or taunted and being barred from traditional ceremonies. Two sources contacted by Cedoca stressed however that awareness campaigns are producing positive results and that city-dwellers are less prone to community pressures.
Ivory Coast has ratified many international conventions banning FGM, and the practice has been banned by domestic law since 1998. This ban has caused the rise of clandestinely performed FGM. There have been some rare convictions for FGM or complicity in FGM since 2012. The courts are the last resort for (potential) victims of FGM, who will generally first seek redress from community elders and use traditional conflict management mechanisms.
The main actors promoting awareness against FGM are the state (several high ranking-officials have publicly spoken out against FGM) and NGOs. These actors organise numerous awareness sessions. They have also opened several offices to receive complaints from victims of FGM.
There are no specialized centres providing medical or psychological aid for victims of FGM but some treatments, which can be expensive, are available.
The policy implemented by the Commissioner General is based on a thorough analysis of accurate and up-to-date information on the general situation in the country of origin. This information is collated in a professional manner from various, objective sources, including the EASO, the UNHCR, relevant international human rights organisations, non-governmental organisations, professional literature and coverage in the media. When determining policy, the Commissioner General does not only examine the COI Focuses written by Cedoca and published on this website, as these deal with just one aspect of the general situation in the country of origin. The fact that a COI Focus could be out-of-date does not mean that the policy that is being implemented by the Commissioner General is no longer up-to-date.
When assessing an application for asylum, the Commissioner General not only considers the actual situation in the country of origin at the moment of decision-making, he also takes into account the individual situation and personal circumstances of the applicant for international protection. Every asylum application is examined individually. An applicant must comprehensively demonstrate that he has a well-founded fear of persecution or that there is a clear personal risk of serious harm. He cannot, therefore, simply refer back to the general conditions in his country, but must also present concrete, credible and personal facts.
There is no policy paper for this country available on the website.