Community engagement in the fight against child exploitation in Senegal
In Africa, it is estimated that over 60% of victims of trafficking in persons are children. In Senegal, the phenomenon is often linked to non-formal education institutions, known as Daara, where children are forced to beg on the streets for long hours and often subjected to physical and psychological abuse. Recently, a mapping of koranic schools in the region of Dakar revealed that there are more than 30,000 children forced to beg in the street of Dakar every day. According to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, this practice meets the definition of child trafficking.
To counter this phenomenon, UNODC in collaboration with the municipalities of Medina and Gueule Tapée, and with the support of grassroots organizations, religious leaders, women and youth groups, organized from 28 February to 3 March 2015 a community movement against this form of exploitation of children that are known in Senegal as talibés. During a forum that gathered more than 250 people in the cultural centre of Douta Seck in the municipality of Medina, various participants expressed their outrage against the daily exploitation of thousands of children in Senegal.
After four hours of sincere discussions, useful recommendations were addressed to the Senegalese Government and religious community leaders. One of the most urgent recommendation was the enforcement of the Senegalese Trafficking in Persons (TIP) law that criminalizes forced child begging. The participants were also invited to take part in a march to commemorate the anniversary of the death of the nine talibés who died when a fire broke out while they were sleeping in a crowded room.
During the forum, a film produced by UNODC on child begging was broadcasted. This provided an opportunity to remind people of the hardships faced by the talibés in their daily lives. The film Le Cheval Blanc triggered discussion on the ways and means to put an end to these forms of modern day slavery.
In line with its mandate and thanks to funds from USAID, UNODC is currently implementing a joint project with municipalities in the greater area of Dakar. The project is meant to compliment the efforts already underway by the Senegalese Government and will help to support and build momentum within the communities in order to create a change in the social norms related to the talibés issue.