Tuesday, 19 July 2016 14:18

SENEGAL: President Sall Threatens to Jail Parents of Child Beggars

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4 July 2016 - Senegal's President Macky Sall has threatened to send parents of child beggars to jail as a way of ending the age-old phenomenon.

President Sall made the statement at the weekend on national television when he formally declared the end of child begging in Senegal.

He urged parents who gave their children to Islamic teachers and are exploited as child beggars to immediately retrieve them.

Further to this, President Sall in a twitter message, wrote that: "I have ordered the urgent removal of child beggars from the streets in keeping with the protection of the rights of the child and vulnerable people."

A similar desperate move by President Sall's government failed when it was newly elected in 2013 and many still do not believe the vice could end this time round.

Former Sociology professor Elhaj Moussa Sow, told Africa Review that the phenomenon of child beggars has been fully endorsed in Senegal and confused with Islamic practice of offering alms.

TEACHERS PROVIDE SHELTER

"This is why it has become very difficult or impossible to end child begging in this country," Prof Sow said.

There is no reliable figure on the number of child beggars in the country but they could number up to half a million spread across the country.

Hundreds keep pouring in constantly to swell their ranks from neighbouring countries and particularly from Mauritania, Mali, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.

Many Muslim families send the children to a Islamic teachers who provide shelter for them but send them in the streets to beg for virtually everything which they will bring back in exchange for lodgings.

Many of the children as young as two years would spend years with the Islamic teachers but would eventually not learn the Koran or Arabic for they are confided to the Islamic teachers also known as "Oustaz".

Most of the children walk barefooted and could spend days without a shower while roaming around in very filthy conditions and can be found sleeping on the sidewalks during the day.

Efforts by virtually all previous governments since independence in 1960 and encouragement from rights groups have failed to end the practice.

By Kono Kissi
Source: The Nation (AllAfrica.com)

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