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Burkina Faso

Bruno Ki

Text reviewed by Lynn Gertiser


Burkina Faso has fully subscribed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights of 1981. The right to health is a right recognized for Burkinabe citizens and is stipulated in the following articles of The Constitution of Burkina Faso and Codes and Laws.

Article 1: All Burkinabe are born free and equal in rights.

Article 2: The protection of life, safety and physical integrity are guaranteed.

Article 18: Education, instruction, training, work, social security, housing, sport, recreation, health, protection of motherhood and childhood, assistance to the elderly or disabled persons and those in social cases, as well as artistic and scientific creation, constitute the social and cultural rights recognized by the present Constitution, which sees to their promotion.

Article 26: The right to health is recognized.

Implementation of sexual rights and reproduction


A single therapeutic abortion is authorized but is surrounded by precautions (it is allowed only when the mother's life is in danger and this need was to be found by the attending physician and confirmed by two other doctors).

The Penal Code generally prohibits any elective abortion or attempt to induce abortion (article 386) and reserves two assumptions: the interruption practiced on request of the woman due to rape or incest (article 387, para. 2) and for therapeutic reasons, if "the maintenance of the pregnancy endangers the health of the woman" or if "there is a strong probability that the child born will be reached by a particularly severe disorder recognized as incurable at the time of diagnosis" (art. 387, para. 1). It punishes providing the woman with the material means to practice the abortion herself. The penalty is a prison sentence of one to five years and a fine of 300,000 F to 1,500,000 F. If the procedure has resulted in the death, imprisonment will be of ten to twenty years (art. 383 para. 2). In the case where the convicted person is usually engaged in such acts (article 383), the term of imprisonment shall be five to ten years (in the case of article 383 et al. 1) or for life (in the case of article 383 et al. 2 of Act No. 043/96/ADP of the Penal Code). Lastly, it punishes, with an imprisonment of two months to two years and a fine of 50,000 to 600,000 F, or only one of these two penalties, any person who by any means of dissemination or advertising encourages abortion.

Female genital mutilation (FGM)

In Burkina Faso, the practice of female genital mutilation has become a phenomenon that has led to the set up of a national committee for the abandonment of FGM (National Committee for the fight against the practice of circumcision) since 1990.

According to article 380 of the Penal Code, genital mutilation, "is punishable by a prison term of six months to three years and a fine of 150,000 to 900,000 francs, or only one of these two penalties, for anyone who attempts to undermine the integrity of the genital organ of the woman by total ablation, excision, infibulation, brutalization or by any other means. If death resulted, the sentence shall be imprisonment from five to ten years".

Article 381 of the same code stipulates that: "The penalties are brought to the maximum if the guilty party is of the medical or paramedical profession. In addition, the court may decide to prohibit his ability to exercise his profession for a duration which may not exceed five years".

Also, a national day of struggle against the practice of circumcision has been established for the 18th of May of each year.

Minority sexual rights

The law in Burkina Faso does not allow marriage between homosexuals. In article 23 of the constitution of Burkina, it is mentioned that: "Marriage is based on the free consent of the man and the woman...". This means therefore that any other form of union different than that of a man and a woman is prohibited. This is mentioned in article 238 of The Code of the Person and the Family  “marriage may be contracted only between a man over the age of twenty years and a woman of more than seventeen years.

Violence against women

  • The Constitution of June 2, 1991 guarantees equality between all citizens and respect  for dignity. It is stipulated in article 2.
  • The Individuals and Family Code (CPF) recognizes the women's legal capacity under the same conditions as the man in the fields of family and public life. 
  • The Penal Code which in addition to the traditional offenses -- assault and battery, rape and other offenses -- contains, provisions against female genital mutilation, forced marriage, the abandonment of the family, dowry, etc.

Burkina Faso has subscribed to several international commitments. Most of these commitments include the promotion of the abandonment of violence done to women. Representative of this is the Declaration and the Program of Actions of Vienna, the Program and the Plan of Action of Cairo (Egypt), the Program of Action of Istanbul (Turkey) on human settlements (habitat 2) and the Declaration and Program of Action of Stockholm (Sweden).  The legal plan itself is noted in the signing and ratification of several international and regional legal instruments: the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the additional protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights relating to African Women.

Challenges in the area of sexual and reproductive rights in Burkina Faso

Although sexual and reproductive health is a universal right and constitutional in Burkina, many challenges remain, including:

  • Developing information programs
  • Identifying a strategy to inform the actors and beneficiaries
  • Further adapting the strategies to the specific needs of women and to fight against poverty
  • Strengthening the system of holistic care for female victims of violence
  • Fighting against child prostitution and sex tourism
  • Carrying out information campaigns and awareness