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Urgent action needed on forced child begging in Senegal: report

Published on Mar 19, 2014 11:53 PM

DAKAR (AFP) - Senegal is failing to protect thousands of boys in Islamic boarding schools from forced begging and torture at the hands of their teachers, a global human rights organisation said in a report released on Wednesday.

At least 50,000 boys known as talibes - the vast majority aged between four and 12 - are forced to beg in Senegal's streets most of the day, every day, by often brutally abusive Koranic teachers known as marabouts, according to campaigners.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the west African nation to pass and enforce new laws to improve living conditions and end forced begging in a 43-page report entitled "Exploitation in the Name of Education: Uneven Progress in Ending Forced Child Begging in Senegal".

"After years of governments paying lip service to the need to regulate Koranic schools, President (Macky) Sall's government has drafted a law that would finally introduce minimum health, safety and educational standards," Matt Wells, HRW's west Africa researcher said in a statement released with the report.

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