Central African Republic

Central African Republic (CAR) is not ranked in the 2012 SIGI due to missing data for one or more SIGI variables. However, the country note below sets out information and data relating to variables where this is available information.

The country was ranked 70 out of 102 in the 2009 Social Institutions and Gender Index.

The Human Development Index for Central African Republic is 0.343, which gives the country a rank of 179th out of 187 countries with data.  Central African Republic's Gender Inequality Index value is 0.669 that places it at 138 out of 146 countries.  The World Economic Forum does not rank CAR as part of the Global Gender Gap report.

Discriminatory Family Code: 

The minimum age for marriage in CAR is 18 for women and men. However, an exemption to this provision can be granted by the public prosecutor on serious grounds. The law only recognises marriage entered into by consent of both parties.[6]

Based on 1995 data (most recent data available), the United Nations reports that 42 percent of girls between 15 and 19 years of age were married, divorced or widowed.[7]  UNICEF reports, based on 1995 data, that 20 percent of women aged 20-24 were married by the time they were 15.[8]  With respect to early pregnancy, the World Health Organisation reports that in 1994/1995 (most recent data available) 8 percent of women aged 15–19 were reported to be currently pregnant with their first child.[9]

The legality of polygamy in CAR has been subject to criticism from the United Nations.[10]  The law allows a man to take up to four wives, but he must indicate at the time of his first marriage contract whether or not he intends to take additional wives.[11]  According to UNICEF based on 1995 data, 28 per cent of women lived in polygamous relationships, including 21 per cent of girls between 15 and 19 years of age.[12]  More recent data is not available.

The law in CAR provides that the husband is the head of the family and had the right to exercise parental authority. The husband also has the right to choose the residence for the family.[13]  Single, divorced, or widowed women, even those with children, are not considered to be heads of households.[14]  Divorce is legal in CAR and may be initiated by either partner.[15] 

The US Department of State reports that the law in CAR does not discriminate against women with respect to inheritance rights. However, discriminatory customary laws often prevail over statutory rights, particularly in rural areas.[16]

There is a lack of available data on the situation of widows or female-headed households in CAR. However, Mercy Corps has reported anecdotally in 2009 that widows are particularly vulnerable to violations of inheritance rights. They report that despite legal protections, the in-laws of the widow will often claim the property that is legally due to the widow, thus leaving widows homeless and landless.[17]

[6] United Nations Human Rights Committee (2005) p.37 [7] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2008) [8] UNICEF (2005) p.36 [9] WHO (n.d.) [10] United Nations Human Rights Committee (2006) p.3 [11] US Department of State (2001) [12] UNICEF (2005) p.37 [13] Oral evidence provided by government to United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2006 during consideration of report. For more information please see http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=6990&LangID=E (accessed 29 October 2010) [14] US Department of State (2004) [15] US Department of State (2001) [16] US Department of State (2001) [17] Mercy Corps (2009) 

Restricted Physical Integrity: 

In 2006, the government introduced a law on the protection of women against violence. The law covers rape, paedophilia, incest, sexual harassment and prostitution.[18]  Marital rape or spousal rape is not specifically prohibited. There is also no specific law criminalising domestic violence, however there is a general provision prohibiting violence against any person with penalties of up to 10 years in prison.[19]

Gender-based violence in CAR must be considered in the context of the relatively recent armed conflict and its aftermath. A 2003 report by Amnesty International brought attention to the widespread and systematic rapes of women in CAR, perpetrated by combatants of all sides between 2001 and 2003. The research found that girls as young as 8 years old and women as old as 60 were raped during the conflict. Women who attempted to resist were in some cases reportedly beaten severely, stabbed or even killed. The report also highlighted the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators.[20] In 2008, the United Nations Secretary General also drew attention to reports of sexual, gender-based and other forms of violence against women, including rape, in and outside refugee camps and displaced persons sites and in several villages.[21]

Although sexual violence associated with the conflict has been widely acknowledged as a serious problem, there is a scarcity of data available on the prevalence of violence against women. Citing a baseline 2009 study by Mercy Corps, the US Department of State reported that one in seven women reported being raped and 25 percent of women reported experienced violence from a partner. The study also found that attitudes normalising violence against women were common with 33 percent of men and 71 percent of women reporting that it was acceptable to use violence against women if they had not properly performed their domestic tasks.[22]

The lack of enforcement of laws prohibiting violence against women and under-reporting of incidents due to social stigma are key challenges in the response to violence against women.[23]  In 2009, the Universal Periodic Review Working Group commended the government’s national action plan to tackle gender-based violence, however the need to increase efforts to combat sexual violence was consistently reiterated.[24]

According to a law promulgated in 1966, female genital mutilation (FGM) is prohibited.[25]  However, the United Nations Human Rights Committee has questioned the adequacy of legal protection against FGM, recommending that it is criminalized under the Penal Code.[26]  In 2009, the government reported to the United Nations that legislation had been recently adopted to criminalize and prohibit genital mutilation as part of the Government’s efforts to eradicate the practice.[27]

Based on 2005 data, the World Health Organization estimates that FGM affects 27 per cent of women aged 15-49 across the country.[28]  In the 2009 State of the World’s Children Report, UNICEF reported that 7 percent of women aged 15-49 had at least one daughter who had underdone FGM. This suggests that the acceptance of the practice is declining across generations.[29]

Limitations on women’s reproductive rights also infringe upon the physical integrity of women in CAR. Abortion is not permitted in CAR, with the exception of saving a woman’s life. It is not permitted in the case of pregnancy after rape.[30]  Women’s access to reproductive health services is also a concern in CAR. According to a 2009 UNICEF report, only 19 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 who were married or in union were using contraception, and only 53 percent of births were attended by skilled health personnel.[31]

[18] Global Legal Information Network (2010); United Nations General Assembly (2009a) p.7 [19] US Department of State (2010) [20] Amnesty International (2004) p.2 [21] United Nations General Assembly (2009b) p.7 [22] US Department of State (2010) [23] US Department of State (2010) [24] United Nations General Assembly (2009c) [25] The law is Order No. 66/16 of 22 February 1966. United Nations General Assembly (2009a) p.7 [26] United Nations Human Rights Committee (2006) p.3 [27] United Nations General Assembly (2009a) p.16 [28] World Health Organisation (n.d.) [29] UNICEF (2009) [30] United Nations Population Division (2007) [31] UNICEF (2009) 

Son Bias: 

Gender disaggregated data on rates of infant mortality and early childhood nutrition are not available for CAR. However, according to UNICEF’s data, child labour is slightly more common amongst girls than boys, with 49 percent of 5-14 year old girls engaged in child labour, compared to 44 percent of boys. Data on the primary school enrolment rates shows a gap between boys and girls, indicating the preferential of sons in access to education. According to UNICEF, based on 2008 data, 63 percent of boys are enrolled in primary school, compared to 45 percent of girls.[32]

The Central Intelligence Agency reports that CAR has a male/female sex ratio for the total population of 0.98.[33]

There is no evidence to suggest that the Central African Republic is a country of concern in relation to missing women.

[32] UNICEF (2009) [33] Central Intelligence Agency (2012) 

Restricted Resources and Entitlements: 

There is limited information available on the women’s legal position in relation to property, land and credit. The 2004 constitution provides for equality of men and women in all areas which should extend to land, property and credit. However, in 2004 the US Department of State reported that although the law did not discriminate against women in property rights, discriminatory customary laws often infringed women’s rights in these areas.[34]

Further, the 2008-2010 Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper for CAR noted that women are rarely involved in the management and control of resources due to discriminatory social and legal practices. In particular, women experienced barriers in accessing bank loans due to the need for securities and guarantees.[35]

[34] US Department of State (2004) [35] Central African Republic (2007) p.32

Restricted Civil Liberties: 

While there are no blanket legal restrictions on women’s freedom of movement in CAR, women’s freedom in public space has been severely affected by the ongoing conflict and civil unrest. In addition to sexual violence, the US Department of State reports that in 2009 women were particularly targeted and detained by authorities for the practice of witchcraft.[36]  Further, women’s freedom of movement is also restricted by the husband’s right to choose the family’s place of residence. The UN Human Rights Committee has asked the Central African Republic to accelerate the process of adapting the Family Code to reflect international standards, particularly with regard to the choice of residence.[37]

The constitution provides for the freedom of press, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. The US Department of State reports that the government frequently uses threats and intimidation to limit media criticism. However, it is reported that the government generally respects the right to assembly.[38]  There is no information available pertaining to specific violations of these rights for women.

With respect to political participation, the US Department of State reports that a 2003 government-sponsored national dialogue agreed that women were to occupy 35 percent of political positions.[39]  The Inter-Parliamentary Union reports that women were elected to only 10 percent of positions in the 2005 elections.[40]

The constitution guarantees equal employment opportunities on the grounds of sex.[41]  Further, the International Labour Organisation reports that CAR provides a maternity leave payment to women of 14 weeks at a payment rate of 50 per cent of earnings. However, a condition of the payment is that the woman has to terminate any remunerated employment.[42]

[36] US Department of State (2010) [37] United Nations Human Rights Committee (2006) [38] US Department of State (2010) [39] US Department of State (2010) [40] Inter-Parliamentary Union (2010) http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm[41] United Nations Human Rights Committee (2005) p.17 [42] International Labour Organisation (2010) 

Background: 

The former French colony of Ubangi-Shari became the Central African Republic (CAR) upon independence in 1960. Since independence, CAR has suffered ongoing political turmoil, civil unrest and armed conflict. Unrest in the neighbouring nations of Chad, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to affect stability in CAR as well.[1]  The World Bank classifies CAR as a low income country.[2]

Women’s status in CAR has been significantly affected by years of conflict and political instability. In addition to suffering sexual violence, personal insecurity and displacement associated with conflict, the women of CAR are amongst the worst affected by poverty.[3]  Further, systematic discrimination in all spheres of life continues to impede progress to gender equality.

The newly adopted 2004 constitution affirms the equality of all human beings before the law, without any distinction, and the equality of men and women in all areas.[4]  CAR became a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1991.[5]  It should be noted that the government has never submitted a report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

[1] Central Intelligence Agency (2010) [2] World Bank (n.d.) [3] United National Human Rights Committee (2005) p.11 [4] Article 1 of the repealed Constitution of 1995 and article 5 of Constitution of 2004 provide that: “All Central Africans are born and remain free and equal in rights and obligations. All discrimination on grounds of social origin, colour, language, race, sex, religion and political opinion is prohibited.” [5] United Nations General Assembly (2009a) p.7

Sources: 

Amnesty International (2004) Central African Republic: Five Months of War Against Women, available at http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR19/001/2004, accessed 30 October 2010.

Central African Republic (2007) Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper 2008-2010, Available at http://www.minplan-rca.org/documents-cles/doc_download/1-document-de-strategie-de-reduction-de-la-pauvrete-2008-2010-anglais, accessed 30 October 2010.

Central Intelligence Agency (2010) The World Fact Book: Central African Republic, Available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ct.html, accessed 21 October 2010.

Central Intelligence Agency (2012) The World Factbook: Sex Ratio, available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2018.html, accessed 29 February 2012.

Global Legal Information Network (2010) Summary record: Loi n°06.032 portant Protection de la Femme Contre les Violences en République Centrafricaine / Law No.06.032 pertains to the Protection of Women Against Violence in the Central African Republic, available at http://www.glin.gov/view.action?glinID=231898, accessed 30 October 2010.

International Labour Organisation (ILO) (2010) Database of Conditions of Work and Employment Laws, available at http://www.ilo.org/dyn/travail/travmain.home, accessed 31 October 2010.

Inter-Parliamentary Union (n.d.) Parline Database: Central African Republic, available at http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm, accessed 24 October 2010.

Mercy Corps (2009) Mercy Corps Blog: Fighting for their homes, 25 September 2009, available at http://www.mercycorps.org.uk/cassandranelson/blog/16406, accessed 29 October 2010.

UNICEF (2005) Early Marriage: A Harmful Traditional Practice, available at http://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Early_Marriage_12.lo.pdf, accessed 29 October 2010.

UNICEF (2009) UNICEF (2009) State of the World’s Children – online data, Available at http://www.unicef.org/sowc09/statistics/statistics.php, accessed 22 October 2010.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2008) World Marriage Data 2008, available at http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/WMD2008/Main.html, accessed 10 October 2010.

United Nations Development Programme (2009) Human Development Report 2009 Central African Republic, online edition, available at  http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/country_fact_sheets/cty_fs_CAF.html, accessed 20 October 2010.

United Nations Development Programme (2011) Human Development Report 2011, available at http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2011_EN_Complete.pdf, accessed 29 February 2012.

United Nations General Assembly (2009a) Human Rights Council, Working Group on Universal Periodic Review, National Report Submitted in accordance with paragraph 15 (a) of the annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1: Central African Republic, A/HRC/WG.6/5/CAF/1, Geneva.

United Nations General Assembly (2009b) Human Rights Council, Working Group on Universal Periodic Review, Compilation Prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, In Accordance with Paragraph 15(b) of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1: Central African Republic, A/HRC/WG.6/5/CAF/2, Geneva.

United Nations General Assembly (2009c) Human Rights Council, Working Group on Universal Periodic Review, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Central African Republic, A/HRC/12/2, Geneva.

United Nations Human Rights Committee (2005) Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties Under Article 40 of the Covenant, Second periodic report, Central African Republic, CCPR/C/CAF/2004/2, Geneva.

United Nations Human Rights Committee (2006) Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties Under Article 40 of the Covenant, Concluding Observations of the Human Right Committee Central African Republic, CCPR/C/CAF/CO/2, Geneva.

United Nations Population Division (2007) World Abortion Policies 2007, Available at http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/2007_Abortion_Policies_Chart/2007_WallChart.pdf, accessed 13 October 2010.

US Department of State (2001) 2000 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Central African Republic, available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2000/af/731.htm, accessed 29 October 2010.

US Department of State (2004) 2003 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Central African Republic, available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27718.htm, accessed 29 October 2010.

US Department of State (2010) Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Central African Republic, available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135944.htm, accessed 30 October 2010.

World Bank (n.d.) Online data: Central African Republic, available at http://data.worldbank.org/country/central-african-republic, accessed at 20 November 2010.

World Health Organisation (n.d.) Department of Making Pregnancy Safer: Central African Republic Country Profile, available at http://www.who.int/making_pregnancy_safer/countries/caf.pdf, accessed 30 October 2010.

Data
Discrim. Fam. Code Rank 2012: 
98
Discrim. Fam. Code Value 2012: 
0.6383
Legal Age of Marriage: 
0
Early Marriage: 
0.42
Parental Authority: 
1
Inheritance: 
0.5
Data
Rest. Phys. Integrity Rank 2012: 
66
Rest. Phys. Integrity Value 2012: 
0.4212
Violence Against Women (laws): 
0.5
Female Genital Mutilation: 
0.257
Reproductive Integrity: 
0.162
Data
Son Bias Rank 2012: 
5
Son Bias Value 2012: 
0.28671
Missing Women: 
0
Fertility Preferences: 
0.44052
Data
Access To Bank Loans And Credit: 
0.5
Data
Rest. Civil Liberties Rank 2012: 
109
Rest. Civil Liberties Value 2012: 
0.9522
Access To Public Space: 
1
Political Participation: 
0.125
Political Quotas: 
1