In a shocking and sad modern day Oliver Twist scenario, today in Senegal roughly 1.2 million impoverished children are trafficked to work for the benefit of others. They are pressed into servitude, begging on the streets to earn about $15 billion to pad the pockets of those who enslave them. What is perhaps most shocking is that in countries like Dakar, at least 7,600 of these children are sent to beg in the streets under the cover of Islam.
Sadly these children are usually not stolen, but given away by their families when they are as young as two years old. Since the 11th century, families have traditionally sent their sons to study at the Quranic schools that dot Africa's western seaboard since the rise of Islam. Because it is forbidden in the Quran to charge a student for religious instruction, traditionally a student would work for their tuition by farming. To see how this has devolved into human trafficking, read more.
Since droughts have caused many of the rural areas to no longer support farms, let alone an educational institution, they are forced to move to urban areas such as Dakar, Senegal’s capital. Here instead of farming, the children are forced to beg sometimes nine hours a day and receive instruction for two hours. If they fail to furnish their minimum quota of change from begging, they are often physically abused.
Since the children are kept in extreme poverty themselves, they have no way to return home and some of the children were given up at such a young age, they don’t even know where their homes or families are located. This picture shows a child in Senegal raising awareness to the practice by carrying a sign that reads, "No begging for children." UNICEF is one organization aiming to ensure just that.
Are you surprised that this happens?