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.
Hachim* is a former talibé of around 15 or 16 years old who experienced abuse for years at a daara in Touba before finally running away in 2017.
At the beginning there were around 50 talibés at the daara, but by the time I left there were a lot less, because many ran away… If we went out to beg, the marabout asked for 500 CFA ($0.90), rice, coffee and sugar. If we returned to the daara without bringing the money, the marabout himself or the older talibés would beat us. They took the whip to hit us, and they would take us par quatre – two would hold our arms and others would hold our legs, while they beat us. I was injured several times – I have scars from these beatings… During lessons, if you didn’t learn well, they [the marabout or grands talibés] would beat us harshly… that’s why some talibés ran away, they couldn’t handle the beatings. …They also used to force us to kneel and face the wall, on the rocks and pieces of bricks, and this injured our knees. Because of having to do this so often, I had scars… sometimes we would get up after the marabout left, but if he returned we would run back into position so he wouldn’t see us.
*Not their real name
Narrative provided by Human Rights Watch