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The Practice of Vidomegon in Benin (BEPC 2007)


Poor, rural families in Benin and elsewhere in Africa often engage in vidomegon, a common social practice whereby a child, usually a daughter, is sent to live as a servant with a wealthier family. Originally, this practice also acted as a way for families to form relationships with one another.

Today, however, the practice has fallen into the realm of child traffickers, who go from village to village to collect children and sell them to other nations. Benin has become a major supplier of illicit child labour. Many children have been forced into slavery and subjected to sexual abuse. Children from ages 3 to 15 are at the greatest risk of this practice.

Most families who willingly give up their children feel they have no other alternative. Many live in desperate poverty and cannot afford to care for their children. The excessive number of children in each household is due to the practice of polygamy; and also, the women do not use any form of birth control.

An Aid-supported ministry in Benin has been working in communities to help abused and traumatized children. One of the girls, Estelle, whom native missionaries are working to free, was given to a woman who sells food. She is forced to work excessively long hours, and is only allowed two hours of sleep per night. Estelle would like to return home, but her father refuses to take her back. He sold her for a price of $ 50 per year.

Dossou was sold as a slave at the age of six. He worked for four years before the ministry found him and placed him in their children's centre. Likewise, Paul, a 10-year-old orphan, was forced to work in a gold mine for three years. At night a lamp was attached to his feet, and he was forced to continue working. With little food, he became malnourished. Paul is currently living in the ministry's children’s home, while a team is working to locate his parents.

Report from Christian Aid - London. (Adapted)




I. COMPREHENSION Read the text and choose the letter (a, b, c, or d) that is in jront of the correct answer. (4 pts)

1- Vidomegon is . . .

a- a local drink in Benin

b- a traditional religion in Benin

c- a common social practice in Benin

d- an indigenous ministry in Benin


2- Vidomegon consists in. . .

a- sending children to school

b- ill-treating children

c- initiation ceremonies

d- sending children to work for rich families.


3- The victims of trafficking often come from.

a- wealthy families

b- big town

c- poor rural families

d- village schools


4- "Vidomegon has fallen into the realm of child traffickers" means…

a. it is a good practice

b. children's parents agree with the practice

c. the Benin government fights against this practice

d. vidomegon has become the business of traffickers.


5 Most families give up their children because they…

a. like vidomegon

b- hate vidomegon

c- have no real choice

d- are afraid of traffickers.


6- Polygamy and lack of contraception lead to...

a. vidomegon

b. large families

c. child abuse

d. serious diseases.


7 - The indigenous ministry is trying to...

a- hunt child traffickers

b- traumatize children

c- give support to abused children

d- train children to become good Christians. 8


- Paul and Dossou are. . .

a- the sons of child traffickers

b- schoolboys

c- victims of child traffickers

d- defenders of vidomegon.


II. GUIDED ESSAY. (10 pts)

1- What happens to the children collected by the traffickers? (2 pts)

2- Do these children enjoy a pleasant life in their host families? (Justify your answer). (2 pts)

3- Why is it necessary for society to protect children? (8 - 10 lines) (6 pts)


Ill. GRAMMAR (4 pts)

A) Put the verbs in brackets into the correct tense.

1- Christian Aid (help) slave children for years.

2- Dossou (become) a slave four years ago. (l pt)


B) Turn the underlined words into plural. (l pt)

3- The poor family gave up the practice.

4- The girl was sold as a slave by him.


C) Turn into indirect speech. (1 pt)

5- The minister said "I'll help these children."

6- The man ordered them "Don't stop working!"


D) Turn into passive voice. (1 pt)

7- The traffickers have sold her as a slave.

8- This wicked woman is forcing the girl to work excessively.



1- Le ministre n'aime pas les trafiquants d'enfants et moi non plus.

2- Le "Vidomegon" existe au Bénin depuis des années.

3- Si la police arrête les trafiquants d'enfants ils seront punis. 4- Faire travailler excessivement un enfant est une mauvaise chose.

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