Last Updated: Friday, 25 July 2014, 08:19 GMT

2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Senegal

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 29 August 2006
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Senegal, 29 August 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7490844.html [accessed 25 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Selected Child Labor Measures Adopted by Governments
Ratified Convention 138     12/15/1999
Ratified Convention 182     6/1/2000
ILO-IPEC Member
National Plan for Children 
National Child Labor Action Plan 
Sector Action Plan (Commercial Sexual Exploitation)

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

An estimated 32.5 percent of children ages 5 to 14 were counted as working in Senegal in 2000. Approximately 39.2 percent of all boys 5 to 14 were working compared to 25.9 percent of girls in the same age group.4170 Children are exploited in activities that the Government of Senegal has identified as the worst forms of child labor. Among them are begging, forced labor, prostitution, drug trafficking and illegal activities, recycling of waste and garbage, and slaughtering of animals.4171 Children can be found working on rural family farms and in animal husbandry, fishing, rock quarrying, and gold and salt mining.4172 Children also work in domestic service, transportation, construction, manufacturing, and automobile repair shops, restaurants, and hotels.4173 Child labor is one of many problems associated with poverty. In 1995, the most recent year for which data are available, 22.3 percent of the population in Senegal were living on less than USD 1 a day.4174

Senegal is a source, transit, and destination country for child trafficking.4175 Boys are trafficked within and to Senegal from The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Guinea to participate in exploitative begging for Koranic teachers, considered by the Government of Senegal to be a worst form of child labor.4176 Official statistics put the total number of these boys, known as talibés, at over 100,000. They are vulnerable to sexual and other exploitation.4177 Some Koranic teachers bring children from rural areas to Senegal's major cities, holding them under conditions of involuntary servitude.4178 Talibés have revealed to NGOs and shelters that they are often beaten and shackled if they do not bring their Koranic teachers a minimum amount of money at the end of each day. In fact, in 2005, two Koranic teachers were convicted and sentenced to prison for such abuse.4179

There are reports of young girls being trafficked from rural to urban areas for forced domestic service. Senegalese girls are also trafficked both internally and to other countries for exploitative labor and commercial sexual exploitation.4180 Child prostitution occurs on beaches and in bars, hotels, and other tourist areas.4181

Articles 21 and 22 of the Constitution adopted in January 2001 guarantee access to education for all children.4182 Education is compulsory and free up to the age of 16. However, due to limited resources and low demand for secular education in areas where Islamic education is more prevalent, the law is not fully enforced.4183 In 2002, the gross primary enrollment rate was 80 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 69 percent.4184 Gross and net enrolment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. In 2000, 41.2 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were attending school. Primary school attendance statistics are not available for Senegal.4185 As of 2001, 80 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade 5.4186

The Ministry of Labor has indicated that the public school system is unable to cope with the number of children that must enroll each year. As a result, many school-aged children seek to obtain education and training through more informal means. A large number apprentice themselves to a shop, where they receive no wages. One government official estimated there are 100,000 children apprenticed in Dakar. The ANSD reports that as of 2001, 32.5 percent of children aged 10-14 had begun their professional lives.4187

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Constitution protects children from economic exploitation and from involvement in hazardous work.4188 The minimum age for employment, including apprenticeships, is 15 years.4189 With permission from the Minister of Labor, children 12 years and older may perform light work within a family setting, provided that it does not jeopardize their health, morals, or schooling.4190 Children are prohibited from working at night, and cannot work more than 8 hours a day.4191 Activities considered to be worst forms of child labor are prohibited by law,4192 and children under 18 years are prohibited from engaging in hazardous work.4193 The government has identified "extremely hard labor," including carrying heavy loads, gold mining, and work underwater; and "very dangerous work," including work with toxic chemicals, as worst forms of child labor.4194 The law also identifies businesses in which children under 18 years are forbidden from working.4195 In addition, children under 16 are prohibited from working on fishing vessels.4196 The minimum age for voluntary recruitment into the military is 18 years, and 20 years for compulsory recruitment.4197

Senegal has a law prohibiting the worst forms of child labor4198 and other statutes under which the worst forms can also be prosecuted. Prostitution is illegal for youths under the age of 21, as specified by Article 327 of the Penal Code.4199 Procuring a minor for the purpose of prostitution is punishable by imprisonment for 2 to 5 years and a fine of 300,000 to 4,000,000 CFA francs (USD 556.27 to USD 7,416.95).4200 The Labor Code prohibits forced and compulsory labor.4201 In April 2005, the Senegalese National Assembly adopted a law against human trafficking, which also prohibits exploitative begging and trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.4202 Since 1999, the Government of Senegal has submitted to the ILO a list or an equivalent document identifying the types of work that it has determined are harmful to the health, safety or morals of children under Convention 182 or Convention 138.4203

The Ministry of Labor and its Social Security Inspectors are responsible for investigating child labor cases and enforcing child labor laws. However, due to a lack of resources, inspectors do not initiate workplace visits and instead depend on violations to be reported. According to the U.S. Department of State, the Ministry of Labor monitors and enforces minimum age laws only in the formal sector, including in state-owned corporations, large private enterprises, and cooperatives.4204

There is a consensus among many NGOs, the media, and even some government officials that the government has the capacity to significantly reduce child labor, particularly begging. While the 2005 antitrafficking law forbids exploitative begging, no one had been prosecuted under its provisions by the end of the year. However, according to the Department of State, the government's program to modernize Koranic schools offers promise in regard to addressing this issue.4205

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Senegal is participating in a USD 2 million, USDOL-funded, ILO-IPEC Timebound Program focused on addressing exploitative child labor in agriculture, fishing, begging, and domestic service.4206 The government also participates in an ILO-IPEC project, funded by France, to combat child labor in Francophone Africa.4207 The Family Ministry, in cooperation with the Government of Italy and UNICEF, has a program to withdraw children from the worst forms of child labor, including begging, domestic work, and sexual exploitation.4208

The Family Ministry has also been active in promoting birth registration through awareness campaigns and registration drives. Parents often fail to register their child's birth and the result is that their child has no right to education or health care. Many such children find themselves forced to work in the informal sector.4209

The government also collaborates with UNICEF and NGOs to hold seminars aimed at preventing young girls from entering prostitution.4210 UNICEF also works to increase enrollment in basic education, particularly for girls, and operates a school-feeding program in the Casamance region of Senegal.4211

Since 2000, the government has been implementing its Ten-Year Education and Training Program,4212 which aims to achieve universal enrollment in primary education by 2010.4213 The government encourages conventional as well as non-conventional modes of education, including community-based and Koranic schools.4214 To reduce the incidence of exploitative begging, the Family Ministry has developed a new program to help support 48 Koranic schools whose teachers do not force their students into exploitative begging.4215 The Government of Senegal also has established a program to provide education and social services to 11,000 at-risk children.4216

The Government of Senegal's Family Ministry operates the "Ginddi Center" in Dakar to receive and care for street children, including trafficking victims. Pursuant to Senegal's 2004 anti-trafficking accord with Mali, trafficked Malian children are kept at the Ginddi Center prior to repatriation.4217 Children from The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea also receive assistance.4218 The Center operates a 24-hour toll-free child protection hotline.4219

In March 2005, the Interior Ministry's new Special Commissariat began to combat sex tourism and child prostitution in Senegal's urban centers.4220 The commissariat was not operational at year's end, however.4221 The government has also established regional committees and an Inter-Ministerial committee to coordinate efforts to combat child labor.4222 The Inter-Ministerial committee has drafted a national action plan for combating child labor, which must now be approved by the government.4223


4170 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, October 7, 2005. Reliable data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms, such as the use of children in the illegal drug trade, prostitution, pornography, and trafficking. As a result, statistics and information on children's work in general are reported in this section. Such statistics and information may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

4171 Government of Senegal, Arrêté Ministériel n° 3749 MFPTEOP-DTSS en date due 6 juin 2003, fixant et interdisant les pires formes du travail des enfants, (June 6, 2003), Art. 2; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/SERIAL/64610/64951/F2020269921/SEN64610.pdf.

4172 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Senegal, Washington, D.C., February 28, 2005, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41623.htm. See also Djiga Thiao et. al., Etude des Pires Formes de Travail des Enfants dans le Secteur de la Peche Artisanale Maritime Senegalaise: Rapport final, Dakar, December, 2002. See also Serigne Mor Mbaye et. al., Le Travail des Enfants dans l'Orpaillage, les Carrières et l'Exploitation du Sel, Dakar, March, 2003. See also U.S. Embassy – Dakar, reporting, August 23, 2005.

4173 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Senegal, Section 6d. See also ILO-IPEC, Support for the implementation of the Senegal Time-Bound Programme, project document, Geneva, September 2003, v. See also U.S. Embassy – Dakar, reporting, August 23, 2005.

4174 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2005 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2005.

4175 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2005: Senegal, Washington, D.C., June 3, 2005; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2005/46616.htm.

4176 Ibid.

4177 ECPAT International, Senegal, in ECPAT International, [database online] n.d. [cited June 15, 2005]; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_database/countries.asp?arrCountryID=152&CountryProfil e=facts,affiliation,humanrights&CSEC=Overview,Prostitution,Pronography,trafficking&Implement=Coordination_cooperation,P revention,Protection,Recovery,ChildParticipation&Nationalplans=National_plans_of_action&orgWorkCSEC=orgWorkCSEC&Dis playBy=optDisplayCountry. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Senegal, Section 6d.

4178 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Senegal, Section 6d.

4179 U.S. Embassy – Dakar Official, email correspondence to USDOL Official, August 11, 2006.

4180 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2005: Senegal. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Senegal, Section 5.

4181 ECPAT International, Senegal.

4182 Government of Senegal, Constitution, (January 7, 2001); available from http://www.primature.sn/textes/constitution.pdf.

4183 The government has been increasing the number of classrooms and encouraging children to stay in school. The national budget for fiscal year 2005 allocates 40% to education. See U.S. Embassy – Dakar official, email communication to USDOL official, May 31, 2005. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Senegal, Section 5. Reports indicate that the compulsory schooling law applies only in areas where public schools are available. See ILO-IPEC, Support to the Time Bound Programme Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, TPR, technical progress report, Geneva, March 11, 2005, 2.

4184 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=51 (Gross and Net Enrolment Ratios, Primary; accessed December 2005).

4185 This statistic is not available from the data sources used in this report. Please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section for information about sources used.

4186 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=55 (School life expectancy, % of repeaters, survival rates; accessed December 2005).

4187 U.S. Embassy – Dakar Official, email correspondence to USDOL Official, August 11, 2006.

4188 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Senegal, Section 6d. See also U.S. Department of State official, electronic communication regarding Constitution of Senegal to USDOL official, August 18, 2003. See also Constitution.

4189 Government of Senegal, Code du Travail, Loi No. 97-17, (December 1, 1997), Article L. 145; available from http://www.gouv.sn/textes/TRAVAIL.cfm. See also Government of Senegal, Arrêté Ministériel n° 3748 MFPTEOP-DTSS en date due 6 juin 2003, relatif au travail des enfants, (June 6, 2003), Article premier; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/SERIAL/64609/64950/F1520394879/SEN64609.pdf.

4190 Arrêté Ministériel n° 3748 MFPTEOP-DTSS, Article premier. See also Government of Senegal, Arrêté Ministériel n° 3750 MFPTEOP-DTSS en date due 6 juin 2003, fixant la nature des travaux dangereux interdits aux enfants et jeunes gens, (June 6, 2003), Article premier; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/SERIAL/64611/64953/F1229124862/SEN64611.pdf.

4191 Arrêté Ministériel n° 3748 MFPTEOP-DTSS, Art. 3.

4192 Arrêté Ministériel n° 3749 MFPTEOP-DTSS, Art. 3.

4193 Arrêté Ministériel n° 3750 MFPTEOP-DTSS. 4194 Arrêté Ministériel n° 3749 MFPTEOP-DTSS, Art. 2.

4195 Government of Senegal, Arrêté Ministériel n° 3751 MFPTEOP-DTSS en date due 6 juin 2003, fixant les categories d'entreprises et travaux interdits aux enfants et jeunes gens ainsi que l'âge limite auquel s'applique l'interdiction, (June 6, 2003); available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/SERIAL/64612/64952/F364251671/SEN64612.pdf.

4196 U.S. Embassy – Dakar, reporting, August 7, 2003. See also Arrêté Ministériel n° 3750 MFPTEOP-DTSS, Art. 10.

4197 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, November 17, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=793.

4198 Arrêté Ministériel n° 3749 MFPTEOP-DTSS, Article 3.

4199 Criminal Code of Senegal, in Interpol, Legislation of Interpol Member States on Sexual Offenses against Children: Senegal, [database online] [cited June 16, 2005]; available from http://www.interpol.int/Public/Children/SexualAbuse/NationalLaws/csaSenegal.asp.

4200 Government of Senegal, Criminal Code, Section V: Offenses Against Public Morals, as cited in The Protection Project Legal Library, [database online], Articles 323, 324; available from http://209.190.246.239/protectionproject/statutesPDF/Senegal.pdf. For currency conversion see FX Converter, [online] [cited June 28, 2005]; available from http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic.

4201 Code du Travail, Article L. 4.

4202 U.S. Embassy – Dakar official, email communication, May 31, 2005. Prior to the passage of this law, in 2004, 72 child prostitutes were arrested, and 54 pimps were convicted and given prison sentences of up to ten years. See U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2005: Senegal.

4203 ILO-IPEC official, email communication to USDOL official, November 14, 2005.

4204 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Senegal, Section 6d. Labor and Social Security inspectors can require a medical exam to ensure that work does not exceed a child's capabilities. See Code du Travail, Articles L. 141, L. 146. See also Arrêté Ministériel n° 3748 MFPTEOP-DTSS, Art. 14. See also Arrêté Ministériel n° 3749 MFPTEOP-DTSS, Art. 6. See also Arrêté Ministériel n° 3750 MFPTEOP-DTSS, Art. 27.

4205 Ibid.

4206 The 3-year program was funded in 2003. See International Child Labor Program U.S. Department of Labor, "Support for the Implementation of the Senegal Time-Bound Program, project summary."

4207 The countries participating in this project include Benin, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. See ILO-IPEC official, email communication, November 8, 2005.

4208 The 4-year program was launched in 2002. See ILO-IPEC, Senegal Time-Bound, project document, 24.

4209 U.S. Embassy – Dakar Official, email correspondence to USDOL Official, August 11, 2006.

4210 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2005: Senegal.

4211 UNICEF, At a glance: Senegal, in UNICEF, [online] n.d. [cited June 20, 2005]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/senegal.html.

4212 Government of Senegal, Synthèse et Réalisations du Gouvernement – Ministère de l'Education Avril 2000 – Décembre 2001, [previously online] [cited August 14, 2003]; available from http://www.primature.sn/ministeres/meduc/bilan02.html [hard copy on file]. See also Government of Senegal, Senegal: Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility Economic and Financial Policy Framework Paper: 1999-2001, prepared in consultation with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, Dakar, June 4, 1999, Section VI.A; available from http://www.imf.org/external/np/pfp/1999/senegal/index.htm.

4213 Government of Senegal, Senegal: Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility. Due to a delay in beginning implementation of the plan, the end year was updated from 2008 to 2010. See U.S. Department of State official, electronic communication regarding Constitution of Senegal, August 18, 2003.

4214 UNICEF, At a glance: Senegal.

4215 U.S. Embassy – Dakar official, email communication, May 31, 2005.

4216 U.S. Embassy – Dakar, reporting, August 23, 2005.

4217 At the Ginddi Center children receive educational, medical, nutritional and other assistance. See U.S. Embassy – Dakar official, email communication, May 31, 2005.

4218 U.S. Embassy – Dakar, reporting, August 23, 2005.

4219 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2005: Senegal.

4220 Ibid.

4221 U.S. Embassy – Dakar Official, email correspondence to USDOL Official, August 11, 2006.

4222 ILO, NATLEX National Labour Law Database, [cited June 28, 2005], Arrêté n° 0004/GR.K du 24 janvier 2005, Arrêté n° 00004/GRT/AD du 7 janvier 2005, Arrêté n° 086 du 13 décembre 2004, Arrêté n° 00217/GRSI du 3 décembre 2004, Arrêté n° 060 du 2 décembre 2004; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.details?p_lang=en&p_country=SEN&p_classification=04&p_origin=COUNTRY.

4223 U.S. Embassy – Dakar Official, email correspondence to USDOL Official, August 11, 2006.

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