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2019 (Narrative Date)

The 2018 Global Slavery Index Report estimated that approximately 43,000 people were living in modern slavery in Senegal.

Based on existing data, Human Rights Watch estimates that more than 100,000 talibés living in residential daaras across Senegal are forced by their Quranic teachers, also known as marabouts, to beg daily for money, food, rice or sugar. Thousands of these children live in conditions of extreme squalor, are denied sufficient food and medical care, and many are also subject to sexual and physical abuse amounting to inhuman and degrading treatment.

A ‘Talibé’ is a “disciple” or student of the Quran. Talibés can be adults or children of any age, but the vast majority in Senegal are boys between the ages of 5 and 15, particularly those living at residential daaras. Some talibé children live with family and attend Quranic schools during the day. Most female talibés are day students that do not live at the Quranic schools.

Human Rights Watch estimates the number of talibé children forced to beg in Senegal to be over 100,000.

13-year-old Ibrahim* is a runaway who spent several years at a Quranic school in Touba.

If we tried to run away, the marabout would chain us by both legs so we couldn’t move. He left some talibés like that for months. For me it was about three weeks. I was able to get the chains off by using a metal wire to break the lock, and then I escaped and ran away… I came to Dakar, because if the marabout or my parents saw me in Touba, they would send me back. So it was better to come to Dakar.

*Not their real name.

Narrative provided by Human Rights Watch