Main Menu
Human Trafficking
Street Children


The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                              

Republic of Benin

The economy of Benin remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture, cotton production, and regional trade. Growth in real output has averaged around 5% in the past seven years, but rapid population growth has offset much of this increase. Inflation has subsided over the past several years.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]


CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Benin.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of child prostitution are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got started, how they survive, and how some succeed in leaving.  Perhaps your paper could focus on runaways and the abuse that led to their leaving.  Other factors of interest might be poverty, rejection, drug dependence, coercion, violence, addiction, hunger, neglect, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the manipulative and dangerous adults who control this activity.  There is a lot to the subject of Child Prostitution.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


The Protection Project - Benin [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - Benin, along with Togo, has one of the greatest problems with child trafficking of all the countries in West and Central Africa.  Child labor and sexual exploitation are the predominant forms of trafficking. For example, children are trafficked from Benin to Gabon for domestic servitude.  Also, many children who are trafficked from Benin to other neighboring West African countries are forced to work in agricultural plantations and mines.  Children are trafficked from Benin to Côte d’Ivoire to work on plantations, as servants, or on the streets in prostitution. 

A tradition involving the use of female slaves, known as trokosi or “wives of the deity,” is a modern-day form of slavery that originated in the Ewe and Dangme peoples in south and east Ghana, and also in Togo and Benin. Under this tradition, young virgins are brought to a shrine to compensate for a crime or transgression committed by their families, perhaps even generations earlier. The girls live as slaves to the priest. If a girl dies, the family sends a new one to replace her. The trokosi work in the household, clean the shrine, and are used as sex slaves.


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Country Monitoring Report [PDF]

Sarah  Haider, ECPAT International, 2014

[accessed 26 August 2020]


Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in Benin. The report looks at protection mechanisms, responses, preventive measures, child and youth participation in fighting SEC, and makes recommendations for action against SEC.

Human Rights Reports » 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 10, 2020

[accessed 23 August 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The penal code provides penalties for conviction of rape, sexual exploitation, and corruption of minors, including procuring and facilitating prostitution; it increases penalties for cases involving children under age 15. The child trafficking law provides penalties for conviction of all forms of child trafficking, including child commercial sexual exploitation, prescribing penalties if convicted of 10 to 20 years’ imprisonment. Individuals convicted of involvement in child commercial sexual exploitation, including those who facilitate and solicit it, face imprisonment of two to five years and fines of one million to 10 million CFA francs ($1,698 to $16,978). The Child Code prohibits child pornography. Persons convicted of child pornography face sentences of two to five years’ imprisonment and fines ranging from two to five million CFA francs ($3,396 to $8,489).

Violence against children was common. According to the Center for Social Promotion of Aplahoue, from January to October 2018, there were 38 reported cases of rape, abduction, forced marriage, and trafficking of girls in the Southwestern region of the country alone. Courts meted out stiff sentences to persons convicted of crimes against children, but many such cases never reached the courts due to lack of awareness of the law and children’s rights, lack of access to courts, or fear of police involvement.

2018 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2019

[accessed 22 August 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 196]

Children are trafficked mostly within Benin but also to other countries, primarily Gabon, Nigeria, and the Republic of the Congo, for domestic work and commercial sexual exploitation, and to work in vending, farming, and stone quarrying. Children living in the northern regions of Benin are the most vulnerable to trafficking. (1,2,11,15,18-20) Traditionally, under a practice known locally as vidomégon, children, up to 95 percent of them girls, live with relatives or family friends to perform household services in exchange for educational opportunities; however, many children become victims of labor exploitation and sexual abuse. (1,2,11,15,18,21,22)

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) [DOC]

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 20 October 2006$FILE/G0644845.doc

[accessed 23 January 2011]

[69] The Committee welcomes the inter-ministerial order penalizing sexual violence in schools, but it expresses its concern at reports of sexual abuse and exploitation of children and regrets the lack of information in the State party report on the scope of the problem and measures taken to combat these practices.  While welcoming the adoption of the Code on Persons and the Family which sets the legal age for marriage for boys and girls at 18, the Committee regrets the lack of clarity on the legal minimum age of sexual consent as there is no provision to this effect in the State party’s domestic legislation.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 4 June 1999

[accessed 23 January 2011]

[32] The absence of adequate information, including disaggregated statistical data, on the situation of sexual exploitation of children is a matter of concern for the Committee. In the light of article 34 and other related articles of the Convention, the Committee recommends that the State party 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. It also recommends that the State party reinforce its legislative framework to fully protect children from all forms of sexual abuse or exploitation, including within the family. It is also recommended that the State party consider the ratification of the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others of 1949.

Five Years After Stockholm [PDF]

ECPAT: Fifth Report on implementation of the Agenda for Action [DOC]

ECPAT International, November 2001

[accessed 13 September 2011]

[B] COUNTRY UPDATES – BENIN – CSEC is not only a neglected issue but also a taboo in Benin. A national plan has not yet been developed.  According to UNICEF, the government was not represented at the First World Congress and it was only after the ECPAT mission to Benin in 2000 that the Ministry of Social Protection demonstrated interest in the issue.  The Ministry in collaboration with UNICEF plans to carry out a study on CSEC and develop a national plan.  Child prostitution is on the increase and is inextricably linked to socio-economic difficulties and child labor where the young child is forced to work or prostitute herself to provide for the family.

ECPAT:  CSEC in West Africa

ECPAT International Newsletters, Issue No : 34,  1/March/2001

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 13 September 2011]

SEX TOURISM - Child sex tourism has also been reported in Togo and Benin, where hoteliers are known to be recruiting young girls to satisfy their customers’ sexual needs.

OBSTACLES - There is a paucity of information on the issue. This is primarily the result of taboos and stigma attached to CSEC, the underground nature of the phenomenon and the lack of concrete research on the issue. For example, child abuse and sexual exploitation of children appear to be realities in Gambia and Benin. Both, however, are underreported at official levels.

ECPAT: Trafficking in Children for Sexual Purposes

ECPAT International Newsletters, Issue No : 33  1/December/2000

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 13 September 2011]

WEST AFRICA - There have also been reports on the trafficking of children for sexual purposes from Guinea, Mali, Benin and Senegal. In June 1999, a group of 174 children from Benin were caught being trafficked to Libya for prostitution.

Millennium Development Goals in Benin

OneWorld Guides

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 13 September 2011]

HUMAN RIGHTS - The major human rights issues noted for Benin have involved female genital mutilation (FGM), and child trafficking. One survey indicated that 8% of rural children aged 6-16 worked as agricultural workers or domestic servants either in Benin or neighboring countries. The trafficking of children stems from a combination of poverty and culture as do the related issues of child prostitution, infanticide and a child abusive servitude tradition called "vidomegon”.

UNICEF Briefing on Trafficking in Children to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus

United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF Press Centre, 6 June 2002

[accessed 6 April 2011]

SOUTH ASIA - Benin's first village committees were created in August 1999 in the sub-prefectures of Ze, Dogbo and Agbangnizoun in the south of the country - the area most affected by child trafficking There are now more than 170 committees carrying out a range of activities, most of which are believed to have an impact on trafficking. These Committees raise community awareness, report cases of sexual or other abuse of children by assigning a Committee who keeps a close count on the number of children in the village. In addition, the Committee contacts the police immediately when a child is discovered to be missing, and monitors the re-integration of children who return to their villages.




Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 7 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – Child prostitution mainly involved girls whose poor families urged them to become prostitutes to provide income. Some children were abused sexually by teachers who sought sex for better grades and lured to exchange sex for money by older men who acted as their "protectors." Unlike in previous years, there were no reports of sexual tourism or reports that adult males preferred young girls because they were viewed as less demanding and less likely to have HIV/AIDS. NGOs and international organizations organized assistance to child prostitution victims and worked on prevention programs.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 23 January 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Benin is a source, destination and transit country for the trafficking of children. Children from Benin are trafficked into Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, the Gulf States, and Lebanon. Children from Burkina Faso, Niger, and Togo are sold into servitude in Benin. Trafficked children often work as agricultural workers, domestic servants, market vendors, commercial sex workers, and in rock quarries.

CHILD LABOR LAWS AND ENFORCEMENT - It is illegal to prostitute a minor in Benin.  The government’s Brigade for the Protection of Minors has jurisdiction over all law enforcement matters related to children, including child labor and child trafficking.  However, the Brigade is understaffed and lacks the necessary resources to carry out its mandate.

ECPAT Global Monitoring Report on the status of action against commercial exploitation of children - BENIN [PDF]

ECPAT 2005

[accessed 6 April 2011]

Hardly any statistics or national studies on the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) are available in Benin, and the subject is taboo in Beninese culture. There is evidence that the commercial sexual exploitation of children is perpetrated or facilitated by people from almost all strata of society, including bar owners, taxi-motorbike riders, lorry drivers, sailors, night guards (watchmen), teachers and members of the defence forces. Poverty is a strong causal factor, and the high poverty level in the country has forced children to contribute to the family income by sometimes working in environments that make them vulnerable to exploitation in commercial sex. Some children are also reportedly pushed into prostitution by parents and other relatives.

A large number of children are sexually exploited by teachers in return for better grades, particularly in public schools. The teachers take advantage of their position to pressure students into sexual acts, and those who refuse receive minor grades regardless of the quality of their school work and tests. The situation is so serious that some students have started to act as pimps to get youngsters to provide sexual services for the teachers.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Child Prostitution - Benin",, [accessed <date>]