Talibes: Modern Day Slaves
"Talibé" is an Arabic term for disciple.
What tries to pass as a form of education is only a way of business for exploiting children every day in Senegal. What should be a school is, often times, a place of torture.
These quranic schools, known as daaras, are no more than fragile buildings where atrocities are committed against children aged between 5 and 15 years old. While "students" there, they are forced to spend more than 8 hours a day begging in the streets for money. The rest of their time is spent learning the Quran, while the marabout, their teachers, collect the pupils' daily earnings.
The number of talibés has been increasing lately and there are more than 30,000 boys subjected to forced begging in the Dakar region alone. Children trafficking plays a crucial part in the recent growth. Most of the talibés are Senegalese but the number of children being taken from neighboring countries such as Guinea-Bissau has also been increasing.
Talibés survive in overcrowded and unsanitary daaras. Malaria, skin diseases, breathing problems and stomach parasites are common among them. Many of these children struggle in this situation for many years, leading a portion of them to flee to the streets once their despair has completely taken over.
The physical abuse they receive is known by those living on the streets but remains officially hidden inside these masked schools. The guardians are aware of the crimes they permit but seek a way to continue ignoring the problem while keeping them behind closed doors. Meanwhile, the abusers themselves continue to exploit children without any ounce of concern that the law might be applied against them.