Authors: Coordinator and members of the Implementation Clinic of the Centre for Human Rights
|Henrietta Ekefre||Samuel Ade Ndasi||Susan Mutambasere||Jonathan Obwogi|
In 2012, the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, together with La Rencontre Africaine pour la Defense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO), an NGO in Senegal, submitted a case to the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). The case concerned children forced into street begging in Senegal.
Since the 1980s, Senegal has had a challenge with access to primary education, which leaves thousands of children unable to get absorbed in the mainstream schools. Further, religion plays an important role in the upbringing of children. These have contributed to a situation where at least 100 000 children are enrolled in daaras (religious schools) often far away from their parents. The daaras are administered by marabouts who are religious leaders and not trained educators. These children who are called talibés live in deplorable and overcrowded conditions where they are subjected to various forms of abuse. The marabouts exploit the talibés by making them beg on the streets. In some instances, children are given financial targets to reach, failure of which results in punishment. There is no provision of medical care should the talibés fall sick as they essentially have to fend for themselves.
The kidnapping by Boko Haram of over 200 school girls in Northern Nigeria is an act of gender based violence for which not only Boko Haram is responsible, but also the Nigerian government. Indeed the militant group has carried out atrocities against boys and men that are equally deplorable, however, in this instance it is not by chance that Boko Haram kidnapped girls. They were targeted because they are girls.
The leader of Boko Haram said in a video shortly after the kidnapping that he would sell the girls in the market. His statement is reflective of an exceptional disdain for girls, which did not exist in isolation, but within a patriarchal society where harmful stereotypes perpetuate girls’ inferiority and enable violence against women to be an accepted norm. Amnesty International has reported that up to two thirds of Nigerian women may have experienced violence in the home by an intimate partner. While domestic violence differs in nature from the kidnapping of over 200 school girls, the common thread is the context within which the acts occur; in a society which does not accord women equal value and provides the structural conditions whereby a girl or woman can be abused in the home or kidnapped and threatened to be sold in the market.