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Koranic students sent to beg on Dakar's streets

By Sheriff Bojang jr

In Senegal some Islamic scholars have called upon the incoming parliament to address the issue of the country’s street-child beggars locally known as "talibes".

It is estimated that Dakar alone has over 100,00 street children.

Children between the ages of five and 14 are sent to the city to study Islam and memorise the Koran. But studies have found that many spend little time studying and are forced by their Koranic teachers to beg on the streets for cash and food.

Previous governments have failed to address the issue for fear of reprisal from the  teachers, backed by powerful Islamic sects across the country.

Rights groups such as Amnesty International have criticised previous Senegalese governments for not living up to their legal obligations of protecting the street kids.

In a damning report, Human Rights Watch says most of the talibes, usually between eight and 14, are subjected to slavery-like conditions and are severely abused at their residential Koranic schools by the marabouts.

 

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