Benin – COI

Benjamin N. Lawrance, Ph.D. (LGBTI)

Professor of History at the University of Arizona



Benjamin N. Lawrance is the former Conable Chair in International Studies at Rochester Institute of Technology and is currently a professor of history at the University of Arizona.He has conducted field research in West Africa since 1997 and published extensively about political and social conditions. He has served as an expert witness in the asylum case for  over 130 West Africans in the US, Europe and Canada which have involved human trafficking, citizenship, statelessness, female genital cutting, gender issues, gender identity, ethnic and religious violence, and witchcraft accusations. He has provided reports on human rights abuses, extra-judicial executions, political conditions, targeted political violence and persecution in Benin.

Carolyn Sargent (FGM/C)

Carolyn Sargent has worked in the northern regions of the Republic of Benin,  the Atakora and Borgou zones where FGM/C is commonly practised. She spent six years living in both rural and urban communities in Benin, conducting research on women’s reproductive health issues. Her research included a study on local midwives and women healers. Dr Sargent observed these healers for two years in their interventions during childbirth and focused on other maternal and child health problems. She also conducted research with an obstetrician, Dr Eusebe Alihonou, in a village of northern Benin, where he examined pregnant women and checked FGC, which could impede labour. She has collected narratives from adult men and women regarding their perspectives on FGM/C and their reflections on their own childhood experiences. Dr Sargent is Professor of Sociocultural Anthropology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the Washington University in St. Louis where she teaches on gender and health, with a particular focus on reproduction, medical decision-making, and the management of women’s health in low-income populations.