Togo - Social development

The government's social welfare program, under a 1973 law, includes family allowances and maternity benefits; old age, disability, and death benefits; and workers' compensation. Retirement is normally allowed at age 55. The program covers employed persons, students, apprentices and members of cooperatives. Maternity benefits are provided for 14 weeks to working women. The labor code requires employers to provide paid sick leave. The program supplements a continued strong sense of social obligation to one's family or clan, even among Africans in urban centers.

The status of women is improving, but they are still subject to legal and social restrictions. A husband may deny his wife the right to work and has legal control over her earnings. Women face discrimination in employment and access to education. A wife has no financial rights in a divorce and no inheritance rights upon the death of her husband. Polygamy is practiced. In 1998 the government passed a law banning female genital mutilation, which affects an estimated 12% of all girls and women. Domestic abuse and violence are widespread.

The human rights record of the Togolese government is deteriorating. Abuses include political repression, excessive force by police (with little accountability), and arbitrary arrest and detention. Prison conditions remain very harsh. Human rights organizations are permitted to exist, although they may be subject to intimidation by the government.

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