Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 16:28 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Senegal

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 10 September 2009
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Senegal, 10 September 2009, available at: [accessed 18 December 2017]
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 Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Population, children, 5-14 years, 2005:2,983,310
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2005:30.0
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2005:33.4
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2005:26.7
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:15
Compulsory education age:16
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:83.5
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:71.9
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2005:47.9
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2005:65.0
ILO Convention 138:12/15/1999
ILO Convention 182:6/1/2000
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

* In practice, must pay for various school expenses

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Senegal, children work in agriculture, hunting, fishing, domestic service, transportation, construction, manufacturing, vending, tailoring, and weaving, as well as in automobile repair shops, restaurants, and hotels. Children work in the production of gold, salt, and fish. They also work in mines and rock quarries, often in hazardous and unhealthy working conditions. Children in mines sift through dirt using mercury to attract precious metals. Exposure to mercury can lead to serious health problems. Children, many of whom live in the streets, are exploited in illicit activities, including begging, commercial sexual exploitation, and drug trafficking; and work in dumpsites, slaughterhouses, and other poor conditions. Child prostitution occurs on beaches, in bars, at hotels, and other tourist areas.

Senegal is a source and destination country for child trafficking. Young girls are trafficked from villages in Fatick, Louga, Kaolack, Kolda, Ziguichor, Thies, Saint Louis, and Djourbel to urban centers for domestic service. Senegalese girls are also trafficked to The Gambia and Mauritania to work as domestic servants. Girls from The Gambia, Liberia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria have reportedly been trafficked to Senegal for sexual exploitation.

The practice of sending boys to Koranic teachers to receive education, which may include a vocational or apprenticeship component, is a tradition in various countries, including Senegal. While some boys receive lessons, others are forced by their teachers to beg for food or money and surrender the money that they have earned. Such children have been underfed and physically abused. These boys, or talibes, are trafficked from rural areas to major cities within Senegal, as well as from The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Guinea. A UCW study of child beggars in Dakar found that 90 percent were talibe and that half of these children were from other countries. Boys from Senegal are also trafficked to Mauritania to engage in forced begging for Koranic teachers.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment, including apprenticeships, is 15 years. 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. The law prohibits hazardous work for those under 18 years. The law identifies sectors in which children under 18 years cannot work or can only work under certain conditions, including workshops where there are toxic or harmful fumes, fishing boats, and in mines or quarries. Children are also forbidden to work at night, can work no more than 8 hours a day, and require a minimum break of 11 consecutive hours.

Activities considered to be worst forms of child labor are prohibited by law. The government has identified the worst forms of child labor as forced labor, slavery, prostitution, drug trafficking, begging for a third party, scavenging garbage, slaughtering animals, and work that imperils the health, safety, or morality of children. Examples of such work include work underwater, with toxic chemicals, or with complex tools and machinery.

By law, one who procures a person into prostitution, or acts as an intermediary for prostitution, will be punished by a prison sentence of 1 to 5 years and a fine. If the crime involves a minor younger than 13 years, sentences are increased to 3 to 7 years in prison, and the fine is doubled. Traffickers are subject to sentences of imprisonment of 5 to 10 years and increased fines.

Cases involving torture lead to longer prison sentences.

The minimum age for voluntary recruitment into the military is 18 years and military conscription is 20 years.

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing child labor laws; "social security" inspectors within the Ministry investigate child labor cases. According to USDOS, labor officers rely on reports of violations from unions because the inspectors lack transportation and other resources, preventing them from conducting workplace visits. Labor inspectors monitor and enforce minimum age laws in state-owned corporations, private enterprises, and cooperatives.

The police's Criminal Analysis Unit monitors trafficking sources and a special police squad is posted at country borders. In addition, the Brigades des Mineurs (Minors Brigade), a special police unit to fight sex tourism, has offices in Dakar.

Senegal was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperative Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Joint Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central African Regions. As part of the regional Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, the Government of Senegal agreed to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders; to rehabilitate and reintegrate trafficking victims; and to assist fellow signatory countries to implement these measures under the Agreement.

Current Government Efforts to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Senegal held workshops during the reporting period with local officials, NGOs, and civil society to raise awareness on child labor and begging. The Ministry of Women, Family, Social Development, and Women's Entrepreneurship runs a program of support to 48 Koranic schools that have committed not to engage their students in begging. The Government continues to implement the National Timebound Program that was started with funding from USDOL and support from ILO-IPEC. The Government also is implementing the Child Labor Plan, which focuses on better management of child labor issues.

Officials from the Government of Senegal have participated in trafficking and child awareness events hosted by NGOs, and have provided training on trafficking prevention, protection, and prosecution, attempting to raise public awareness on these issues. The Government also provides training to police, social workers, hospital employees, judges, lawyers, associations and others on the dangers of child trafficking, monitoring child trafficking, and its prevention. Senegalese authorities worked with officials from Mali and Guinea-Bissau to repatriate trafficked children. Through September 2009, the Government, in partnership with IOM, is participating in a USDOS-funded USD 310,000 project that assists in returning and reintegrating child trafficking victims and providing socio-economic support for victims in ECOWAS states, including Senegal. As of July 2008, 227 children had benefited from project interventions.

The Government of Senegal is participating in a 3-year, French-funded USD 4.83 million regional ILO-IPEC anti-child labor project that ends on December 31, 2009. The Government also participated in one 5-year and one 2-year ILO-IPEC regional project combating trafficking in children for labor exploitation in West Africa, respectively funded by Denmark at USD 6.19 million and 2.64 million through April 30, 2008 and December 31, 2009. The Government of Senegal also participated in the USD 3.46 million ILO-IPEC, 9-year Global Campaign to Raise Awareness and Understanding on Child Labor funded by Italy that ended on March 31, 2009.

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