by HRW, #Dakar
Tens of thousands of talibé children in Senegal continue to suffer from forced begging and abuse at certain traditional Quranic schools, despite a year-long government program intended to crack down on the practice, Human Rights Watch and the Platform for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (PPDH), a coalition of Senegalese rights groups, said in a report released the 11th of July.
The 40-page report, “‘I Still See the Talibés Begging:’ Government Program to Protect Talibé Children in Senegal Falls Short,” examines the successes and failings of the first year of the new government program to remove children forced to beg from the streets. The report documents the ongoing abuses faced by many talibé children in Dakar and four other regions during – and despite – the program, including pervasive forced begging, violence and physical abuse, chaining and imprisonment, and sexual abuse. Human Rights Watch and the PPDH also assessed the ongoing challenge of ensuring justice for these abuses.
The groups urged the government to strengthen the program as it enters its second year, to investigate and prosecute abusive teachers, and to establish a legal framework to regulate the traditional Quranic boarding schools, also known as daaras. Candidates for the July 30 National Assembly elections should put children’s rights at the front and center of their campaigns. The new Assembly should work to end forced begging and expedite passage of the draft law regulating daaras.
Talibé children attending exploitative daaras are hardly difficult to find. One runaway talibé in Dakar, around 8 or 9 years old, told Human Rights Watch that in his former daara, “We begged for money and rice. The marabout [Quranic teacher] asked for 400 CFA [US$0.70] each day. On Wednesday, it was 500 CFA, [US$0.85], to pay the rent and electricity,” he said. “If we didn’t bring the money, or if we didn’t recite the verses, the marabout would beat us.”
The report is based on extensive interviews from January to June 2017 with current and former talibé children, Quranic teachers, Senegalese activists, government officials, social workers, aid workers, and UN officials. It follows a July 2016 report, “Senegal: New Steps to Protect Talibés, Street Children,” and reports in 2015, 2014 and 2010 documenting abuses against talibés…
(11 luglio 2017)