Child begging in Senegal: a breach of fundamental rights

Rooted in a firm faith, Senegalese Muslims accord a great deal of importance to their children’s Koranic education. While some parents send their children to Koranic schools (Daara) only during the school holidays, others opt for a full-time education at a boarding school.

credit: Dave Dyet https://www.flickr.com/photos/dyet/5760157193

However, the flipside of this choice is that many of these young people are turned into beggars by their teacher, known as a “Daara Serigne” or marabout. The child, or talibé in the Senegalese language, is the student. He is placed under the tutelage of the teacher by his father. According to the map of Koranic schools in Dakar (Moussa, 2014), around 60,000 talibé children can be found in thousands of Daara schools in Dakar.

These children don’t go to school, are often very poorly dressed and some of them have untreated illnesses and injuries. They eat food scrounged here and there from different places, sometimes sleep in the street and are forced by their marabout to bring in a fixed sum of money every day. This sight, although disconcertingly normal, nonetheless flouts these children’s most basic human rights.

In fact, Article 4 of the 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child stipulates that “the child must benefit from social security; he or she must be able to grow up and develop in a healthy way (…), the child has the right to adequate nourishment, housing, free time and medical care” (General Assembly of the United Nations). Begging undercuts all of these rights; rights which are essential for the physical and mental development of a child.

A cruel lack of awareness of children’s rights

In societies worldwide, children’s education is the responsibility of adults (parents, family, community and the government). Accordingly, Senegal largely agrees to take on this duty, and recognizes it as a right. In its 2001 Constitution, which has been changed many times, the Senegalese constituent stipulates that “all children, boys and girls, in all areas of national territory, have the right to go to school.

However, the phenomenon of begging remains very much present in Senegal and creates a barrier to schooling, in spite of the existence of many schools, public and private, designed to fulfil the right to education.

Child beggars are also exposed to all sorts of dangers to their physical and moral well-being (Seneweb News, 2015), not to mention the care and good nourishment they do not get to experience. They are constantly in a vulnerable position (Metrodakar, 2016), in spite of all the state measures taken by the Committee for the Protection of Children – la Cellule d’Appui à la Protection de l’Enfance (C.A.P.E) – based in Dakar, and the social initiatives put in place to eradicate begging amongst children.

A form of child trafficking

Certain people try to justify begging; particularly those who benefit from it. In fact, young beggars are sent out into the street either by their marabout or their parents or guardians. Since they don’t have the means to feed these children, the root cause of the situation is therefore poverty. The people responsible for protecting them and tending to their needs are actually exploiting them.

Begging is a new form of human slavery which society seems to allow and tolerate – all in the name of a religion which, in principle, fiercely protects fundamental human rights .

Written by : Khady Ngom
Translated by : Izzy Fitzharris
Proofread by : Stephanie Staab

Sources

 

 

Assemblée Générale des Nations Unies, Déclaration des Droits de l’Enfant, 20 nov. 1959, principe 4.

Constitution du Sénégal, 2001, art. 22, al. 2.

Metrodakar (20/04/2016). Le Sénégal face aux problèmes de la mendicité : Pédophilie, maltraitance, maladie, meurtre… A qui la faute?. Consulté sur Metrodakar.

Moussa keita (13/03/2014). CARTOGRAPHIE DES DAARAS DANS LA REGION DE DAKAR – «Plus de 53% des enfants pratiquent la mendicité entre 13h et 17h». Consulté sur Rewmi.

Seneweb News (10/08/2015). Thiès: Un homme égorge un talibé et éventre 2 autres. Consulté sur Seneweb .

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Child victims of chemical attacks in Aleppo

Non-compliance with human rights and international humanitarian law continues to worsen in Syria; after nearly six years of war, Syrian children are down to their last ounce of strength. They sleep in ruins, they are cold and starved, they have witnessed the inconceivable. Every child in Aleppo is experiencing psychological trauma because of the lethal violence which has brought bloodshed to this great Northern city in Syria. They are the victims of indiscriminate bombardments against civilians. War, bombs, chemical attacks all play their part in the day to day lives of these children. According to a recent report by Human Rights Watch, a new chemical attack is said to have been committed in the city of Aleppo in November 2016, killing at least nine civilians, including four children and resulting in around 200 injured (HRW, 2017).

Intolerable and recurring situations.

For centuries, Aleppo has been one of Syria’s biggest cities, with a population of 2.1 million inhabitants in 2004 – nearly as many as Damascus, the capital (Duran & Dagorn, 2016). However, five years after the protest movement in 2011 to which the Bashar Al-Assad regime responded with weapons, war has devastated the city. According to the White Helmets’ Organization for Civilian Protection, Russian airstrikes against the city of Aleppo in 2016 alone have killed 1,207 civilians, including 380 children (Radio-Canada & Agence France-Presse & Reuters, 2016).

Human Rights Watch (HRW) wrote a report accusing the Syrian government and its allies of having launched at least eight chlorine gas chemical attacks against residential areas in East Aleppo, in order to regain control, between November and December 2016, after a period of relative calm (HRW, 2017). The offensive continued until December 13, when the parties agreed on a ceasefire, according to Human Rights Watch (2017).

These attacks have caused the death of nine civilians, including four children and has also resulted in injuries. One of the deadliest attacks struck the neighbourhood of Al-Sakhour on November 20, killing six members of the same family (HRW, 2017).

According to a rescuer present on the scene: “Persons who were affected experienced difficulties breathing, coughed violently, experienced nausea, some fainted, others were frothing at the mouth […] The children are affected the most by these chemical products…They inhale the odours and end up suffocating” (HRW, 2017).

The UN Security Council, including Russia, condemned the use of all toxic chemicals, including chlorine, as weapons in Syria, highlighting the fact that those responsible will be held accountable. On August 7, 2015, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2235 establishing an inquiry to “identify in any way possible the people, entities, groups or governments which have perpetrated, organized or financed the use of chemical products, including chlorine or any other toxic chemical as a weapon in the Arab Republic of Syria” (HRW, 2017).

Aleppo at the centre of a humanitarian disaster

Despair reigns in Aleppo. Children are experiencing psychological trauma because of the fatal violence causing bloodshed in this great Northern city in Syria, where the regime and rebels are fighting a merciless battle. “All the children in Aleppo are suffering. All of them are traumatized” stated the Chief of the United Nations Children’s Fund in Syria, Radoslaw Rzehak, to AFP (AFP, 2016).

Years wasted in a conflict they are in no way responsible for, but for which they are paying a high price: malnutrition and dehydration, no access to education and appropriate healthcare, forced displacement, all within a full-blown humanitarian crisis.Nothing can justify such attacks against children and such disrespect for human life.

 

Grains of hope

The incalculable destruction waged against Aleppo has targeted its population as well as its history. Currently, the Eastern district of Aleppo is at the hands of the Syrian army and its former inhabitants are reinvesting little by little their former living spaces.

On February 23rd, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights held an extraordinary session on the situation in Syria in Geneva in order to bring an end to the illegal attacks, to guarantee access to humanitarian aid as well as grant safe passage for civilians fleeing for their lives, but also to defend the rights of prisoners and to ensure justice and reform in the security sector (Human Rights Watch, 2017).

Currently, 59 countries have also approved the international policy agreement known as the Safe Schools Declaration. By approving this declaration, countries commit to re-establishing access to education when schools are being bombarded, burnt and destroyed during armed conflicts and they are committing to ensuring that the students, teachers and schools are safe. They are agreeing to dissuading this violence by promising to enquire and pursue crimes of war involving schools, and to reduce to a minimum the use of schools for military purposes so that they do not become targets (Human Rights Watch, 2017).

Humanium is also committed to respecting children’s rights across the world. We support sustainable and fair development, by using a global approach, focused on mutual aid, participation and autonomy for the most vulnerable. Currently, we are looking at options for collaborating with a Syrian NGO in order to support children on the ground. We are also considering other partnership options with the UN.

 

Written by : Mahaliana RAJAONARIVO
Translated by : Alexandria Harris
Proofread by : Salomé Guibreteau

Sources

AFP. (2016, December 12). “Tous les enfants d’Alep sont traumatisés”, selon l’Unicef. Retrieved from Le Parisien: http://www.leparisien.fr/laparisienne/sante/tous-les-enfants-d-alep-sont-traumatises-selon-l-unicef-12-12-2016-6446382.php

Durand, A.-A., & Dagorn, G. (2016, Décembre 15). Syrie : à quoi ressemblait la ville d’Alep avant la guerre ? Retrieved from Le Monde: http://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2016/12/15/a-quoi-ressemblait-la-ville-d-alep-avant-la-guerre_5049471_4355770.html

HRW. (2017, February 21). La France et le Canada sont les 58ème et 59ème pays à approuver la Déclaration sur la sécurité dans les écoles. Retrieved from Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2017/02/21/la-france-et-le-canada-sont-les-58eme-et-59eme-pays-approuver-la-declaration-sur-la

HRW. (2017, February 13). Syria:  Des attaques chimiques ont été menées de manière coordonnée contre Alep. Retrieved from Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2017/02/13/syrie-des-attaques-chimiques-ont-ete-menees-de-maniere-coordonnee-contre-alep

HRW. (2017, February 21). Syria: Faire des droits humains une priorité des pourparlers de Genève. Retrieved from Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2017/02/21/syrie-faire-des-droits-humains-une-priorite-des-pourparlers-de-geneve

Radio-Canada & Agence France-Presse & Reuters. (2016, December 15). Premières évacuations à Alep-Est. Retrieved from radio-canda.ca: http://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1006033/cessez-le-feu-alep-syrie-guerre-evacuation-treve

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In Bangladesh, children are exploited within prostitution and workshops

Bangladesh, the country exporting the most textiles after China, saw an increase of 88% in its Human Development Index over the last 30 years, and is set to join the Middle Income classification of countries by 2021 (Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, 2016). While the nation’s dynamic economy resists economic and political crises, the social situation in the country remains poor. In addition to poverty and the ineffectiveness of many policies in the nation, Bangladesh has one of the highest school dropout rate in the world. Students leave school to work (therefore increasing the labor force) in factories and trafficking of all kinds.

Legislation ignored and kept from the public

Bangladesh has ratified 7 of the 8 fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organisation, which include the effective abolition of child labor. These clauses prohibit all forms of work that may harm the health, safety, or morality of a minor and sets the minimum age for working in developing countries at 14 years. These measures, however, are not always respected by the nation, according to annual reports of the Organisation (ILO, 2016).

The danger of workshops

Child laborers in Bangladesh work more than 64 hours per week, most often in textile factories (Quattri & Watkins, 2016). The ever-increasing demand of the market overshadows the regulation of working conditions: safety concerns are obsolete, electric installations antiquated, and space lacking. No less than 80,000 safety problems were cited in the 1,106 factories inspected in the nation (AFP, 2016) (AFP, 2014). These violations can lead to major human catastrophes, such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in 2013 that caused the death of 1,127 people (AFP, 2016).

Sexual exploitation of young girls

For girls, a specific sort of trafficking is in place. Spotted in the street, certain young girls are driven not to the factory, but are recruited into prostitution in the numerous brothels in Bangladesh – when they are not sent to international prostitution networks. Datlauda is the biggest brothel in the country, located in the outskirts of the capital, Dacca. It has 2,000 prostitutes, including children younger than 15 (Rashid & Auer, 2015). Here, some of the same steroids used to impregnate cows are occasionally administered to younger girls to make them appear older (Rashid & Auer, 2015). Consequently, in addition to problems of sexual violence come drug problems that slowly eat away the bones and kidneys of young girls.

The impact of work on children

Immediate or long term effects of this sort of work on children are inevitable. Physically, this work can cause injuries and disabilities as well as metal poisoning, the symptoms of which amplify and arise many years after contamination. Psychologically, young workers may suffer from low self-esteem and mental trauma as a result of the substantial stress of the conditions and the nature of the work. Where access to education allows one to elevate himself or herself in society, child labor further consolidates the vicious circle of poverty.

Written by : Florine Tirole
Translated by : Katie Krakow
Proofread by : Salomé Guibreteau

Sources
AFP. (2016, April 24). Bangladesh : Des Ateliers Textiles Toujours Dangereux. Retrieved from Le Point.

AFP. (2014, October 14). Bangladesh : Des Problèmes de Sécurité dans Toutes les Usines de Textile. Retrieved from Libération.

Akash, G. (2016, December 19). 8€/mois pour du t-shirt. Il photographie le travail des enfants…. Retrieved from Mr Mondialisation.

Akash, G. (n.d.). Photo Series: Angels in Hell. Retrieved from GMB Akash.

Choné, M. (2016, December 8). Travail des enfants : 64 heures par semaine au Bangladesh. Retrieved from ConsoGlobe.

Ministère des Affaires Etrangères. (2016, August 3). Présentation du Bangladesh. Retrieved from France Diplomatie.

OIT. (2016). Normlex – Ratifications pour Bangladesh. Retrieved from International Labor Organization.

Quattri, M., & Watkins, K. (2016, December). Child Labour and Education: A Survey of Slum Settlements in Dhaka. Retrieved from Overseas Development Institute.

Le Quément, J. L. (2008). La Pauvreté Durable? Au Bangladesh et en particulier à Dacca. L’Harmattan.

Rashid, T., & Auer, S. (2015, February 9). Elles n’ont aucune chance de sortir du plus grand bordel du Bangladesh. Retrieved from Vice News.

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