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 research suggests that hundreds of talibé children in 2017 and 2018 were victims of human trafficking, which under Senegalese law includes the act of harboring of children in a daara and exploiting them for money through forced begging, as well as the recruitment or transport of children for this purpose.
Adama* was 16 when he was sent from Liberia in 2016 to study the Quran with his uncle in Guinea, who then asked permission from his father to send him to study with a Quranic teacher in Senegal.
We boarded a vehicle from Labé [Guinea] to go to Senegal. After arriving in Sambaydo [Guinea], we were stopped by [border] control... three other boys and I were transferred by police to the Coundara [Guinea] Police, because we didn’t have any identification papers. We arrived at the Coundara Police Service in the vehicle with the [Quranic teacher], who negotiated with the police to let us pass. After the negotiations, the police allowed us to return to Samboydo to join the others who were waiting for us there. We set off once again for Senegal. We crossed the borders without difficulty.
*Not their real name.
Narrative provided by Human Rights Watch