Prevalence of forced marriage and polygamy among the Peuhl people and availability of help from state or non-governmental organizations (NGO's) (August 2002) [GIN39148.E]

During a 9 August 2002 telephone interview, the editor in chief of the Guinean newspaper The Lynx, who is of Peuhl origin, provided the following information.

Like in other Muslim communities, polygamy is frequent among the Peuhl people. Polygamy is not only widespread among the Peuhl community but also among all the Guinean population, of which more than 95 percent is Muslim. The editor of The Lynx stated that many government authorities, including the Guinean president, are also polygamists.

Regarding forced marriage, the Guinean editor explained that it is common and "normal" among the Peuhl people for parents to arrange marriages between children without consulting them. This is generally decided when children are still young.

Referring to Guinea, the Global Fund for Women (GFW) Website revealed that "polygamy, early marriage and female genital mutilation are common features of women's lives" (n.d.).

About polygamy and forced marriage in that country, some extracts from a 6 March 2001 United Nations (UN) report also provided information on the situation prevailing in Guinea:

Article 315 of the Civil Code prohibits the practice of polygamy by any Guinean national in any part of the Republic of Guinea.
Any man or woman who enters into marriage without their previous marriage ties having first been dissolved faces a criminal penalty of five to 10 years in prison and a fine. The same penalties are imposed upon the civil registrar.
It should be stressed, however, that the above provisions are widely ignored, particularly by men. Traditional laws allow a man to take up to four wives, provided he is able to afford them equitable treatment. The Civil Code contains a number of loopholes, which allow men to remarry (art. 317). If the law prohibits polygamy, it is not applied in practice.
Forced marriages do take place and are the result of a family putting pressure on a girl to enter into a marriage against her will.

Information on the availability of help from the state or non-governmental organizations for women facing forced marriage and polygamy could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, without naming them, the UN report added that some "paralegals and women's non-governmental organizations" were engaged in the eradication of traditional practices, including forced and early marriage (UN 6 Mar. 2001). The report also noted that "the growing number of women lawyers and women's rights organizations offer hope that certain laws will become widely understood and translated into facts on the ground" (ibid.).

For more information on the Peuhl people, please see GIN36994.F of 21 June 2001. Section 3 of GIN37564.FE of 20 July 2001 also describes problems facing Guinean women, including forced or arranged marriages.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Global Fund for Women (GFW). n.d. « Africa Report: Guinea: Strategic Partnership with Men to Change Women's Lives ». [Accessed 14 Aug. 2002]

The Lynx [Conakry]. 9 August 2002. Telephone interview with the editor in chief.

United Nations. 6 March 2001. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. Considerations of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. [Accessed 6 Aug. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

Two oral sources did not provide information on the subject.

IRB Databases.


Resource Centre country file. Guinea.

West Africa 2001 to present.

Websites including:



Amnesty International.

BBC Africa Online.

Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l'homme (FIDH).



Human Rights Watch (HRW).

MiriNet Guinée.

Women Human Rights Net (WHRnet).

Search engines: