senegalese court bans using children to beg

The Times reports that a court in Senegal has declared a long held practice by Marabouts of using children to beg  illegal.

“The bowls are sometimes no more than old tin tomato cans; the children, some as young as 4, are often barefoot, and they spend perilous hours on the streets and sidewalks, weaving in and out of traffic in their torn, filthy T-shirts. When they return to their rudimentary living quarters in the evening, they must turn their coins over to the marabouts, or face severe punishment. Not infrequently, newspaper headlines on a back page announce the crushing of a little talibé in traffic”

Using children to beg is a habit that is widespread on the Continent. In many towns and cities you will find children – some as young as  a few months old – next to a bowl with a cardboard writing stating one problem or another.

Of course merely banning the act like the Senegalese court has will not solve the problem, a better social safety net for mothers will, but it is a step in the right direction.