an abandoned child living under a bridge, a “recurring phenomenon”

Miguelle Houeto is a lawyer and human rights activist and works regularly on these issues. According to her, at least five cases of abandoned children have already been reported since the beginning of the year.

The phenomenon is recurring, and not just in Cotonou. No real studies have yet been done on this. But we see that it is often young mothers who participate in these methods, often reluctantly. They do not have the financial means to support the child. But more often it is because the father refuses to recognize the child. And if there is no one to support them, they decide to abandon the newborn, which has consequences for society. Because these children who will need to be placed in foster families or health centers at government expense will not benefit from parental love. One of the basic rights of the child, and the child code fully prescribes, however, is to be able to grow up in a family and live with his father and mother.

Unfortunately, these children do not have this chance, as it is difficult to find the parents. As a result of this lack, relationships with others in society will not always be in good shape. And this can create other psychological situations if they are not properly monitored.

Abolition of a newborn child punishable by up to ten years in prison

In Benin, the penal code that was revised in December 2018, the abandonment of a child in a solitary place is punished from one year to three years in prison. The penalties can go up to ten years in prison if the newborn died of negligence or lack of care and hygiene. Inès Hadonou Toffoun, Head of Human Rights and Children at the Ministry, explains: “When these crimes against child abandonment occur, after first aid to the child in a health center, he is placed in a reception and child protection center, following the placement of the juvenile judge.

Every citizen who becomes aware of an abandonment must immediately inform the authorities. Social networks today play a major role in the child protection chain. This is good, provided that the information code is followed and that the child’s image is protected. This allows us to have alerts, reports and go faster in searches. Thanks to social networks, we can more easily identify the child and his parents, sometimes from the dress we wore to him, or the washcloth in which he was wrapped or some other clue. The population is a valuable help.

In Benin, it also makes it possible to help children report all cases of abuse. “