UNODC builds the capacities of municipal actors in the Dakar region on forced child begging

 This activity was funded by the United States

Senegal is a country of origin, transit and destination for child victims of forced begging, one of the most visible and widespread forms of trafficking in persons in the country. More than a hundred thousand children, commonly called "talibés", are forced to beg across Senegal as part of their Islamic studies in schools ( daaras) run by Koranic teachers. Talibé children in Senegal face problems of unbridled abuse and exploitation despite a 2005 law prohibiting forced begging and trafficking, and provisions in the penal code criminalizing all deliberate physical abuse and neglect of children.

In this context, UNODC, with the financial support of USAID, organized a capacity-building workshop for municipal actors of North Pikine, Diameguene Sicap Mbao, Gueule Tapée Fass Colobane and Medina to improve participants' understanding of human trafficking and forced begging, as well as related national and international legal frameworks.

This activity took place from 22 to 24 May 2018 in Mbour and builds on the good results obtained during the first phase of the project in the local municipalities of Medina and Gueule Tapée Fass Colobane. Indeed, UNODC has recorded a significant reduction of talibé's presence on the streets and therefore wished to extend its interventions to the local municipalities of North Pikine and Diameguene Sicap Mbao, where most talibés in the capital city of Senegal come from. The workshop was a great opportunity for former and new beneficiaries of the projet to to share their experiences. It also allowed the development of joint municipal action plans to combat forced begging of children.

Worshop's participants group photo

During the discussions which followed the presentations on the basic concepts related to trafficking in persons and the related national and international legal framework, the participants expressed their surprise at discovering that  many of the talibé children they meet daily on the streets of the Senegalese capital are subjected to inhumane exploitation of their begging and that they are contributing to the perpetuation of the phenomenon by giving money to talibé children, without even knowing it.

Talibés, forced to beg in Dakar, Senegal

The workshop brought together 30 participants, including 12 women, from various backgrounds: Imams, Koranic teachers, municipal councilors, presidents of women's associations and youth associations,  community leader representatives, and Deputy mayors.

A recent study conducted by the NGO Global Solidarity Initiative (GSI) in 2018 revealed that there are currently about 183,835 talibé children in the Dakar region, including 27,943 children involved in begging activities.

Talibé children are one of West Africa's most vulnerable populations, often isolated from their families, separated from their communities, and victims/subjects of recruitment by extremist groups. Cases of talibés forcibly recruited by armed militant groups in neighboring Mali have also been documented.

The forced begging of talibés causes immense suffering among these children who are deprived from their childhood and from the protection of their families, society and, more generally, of the State. Therefore, this project also contributes to the implementation of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16.2, on combating abuse, exploitation and trafficking, and all forms of violence and torture against children.

For more information:

Launch of a new Project against Child Begging in Senegal

UNODC and Senegalese municipalities unite against child exploitation

UNODC Regional Strategy for Combating Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in West and Central Africa

Definitions and tools on human trafficking and migrant smuggling

UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel

Contribution of UNODC to the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel