Many children in Senegal's Koranic schools face multiple cases of abuse as well as financial exploitation through forced begging, Amnesty International charged on Monday, as it urged Dakar to act forcefully to protect students.
Amnesty International chastised Senegal for failing to combat the abuse and exploitation of students in Quranic schools.
In a report released on December 12, the NGO urged Senegalese authorities to take strong action to protect these children, despite President Macky Sall's pledge to improve oversight of these religious education structures.
According to Amnesty International, the Senegalese authorities must meet their obligations and take action to end violations of the rights of children known as talibé (studying in Quranic schools known as daaras).
Its report states that tens of thousands of talibé children are forced to beg, live in deplorable conditions, and face numerous dangers.
Amnesty International, which promotes the defence of human rights, also stated that some Quranic teachers and their assistants subject these children to abuse, including shackling, particularly for runaways, to prevent their escape.
Talibés are entrusted to Quranic teachers by their families, sometimes at a very young age, to learn the Quran.
According to the report, a 10-year-old talibé died of injuries in the Lansar district of the holy city of Touba in January after being beaten by his Quranic teacher who was reprimanding him for failing to learn the day's lesson.
In the absence of official statistics, Amnesty International estimated that Dakar has over 2,000 daaras and nearly 200,000 talibés.
According to a mapping exercise published in 2018 by the NGO Global Solidarity Initiative, 25% of these are thought to be forced to beg.
Amnesty International also condemned child trafficking for economic exploitation, claiming that the phenomenon of talibé children forced begging is based on a system that recruits not only within the country but also sub-regionally, with Quranic teachers and talibé children coming from neighbouring countries such as the Gambia and Guinea Bissau.
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