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.
Malik* is a 16 years old former talibé who ran away from his daara in Touba.
There was a room with grating [on the windows]– this was where they put us for the serious punishment. They would chain our legs, and leave us there for a week. They could leave you there until your parents came, or until you learned your lessons well enough. My feet were swollen because of these chains. If they locked you up and you didn’t have a friend who could bring you food when the marabout wasn’t there, you risked not eating.
*Not their real name
Narrative provided by Human Rights Watch