Every child has the right to live free from violence, exploitation and abuse
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In Senegal, violence against children is widespread, although not documented consistently. For too many children, the places where they should feel safe — at home, at school, in their communities — are the first and most frequent sites of violence, abuse and exploitation.
Child begging, including its child trafficking dimensions, has become a national issue in Senegal. In 2014, an estimated 30,000 children, mostly boys, were begging daily in the streets of Dakar. It cuts children off from schooling and health care, restricting their fundamental rights and threatening their futures.
Without legal proof of identity, children are left uncounted and invisible. In Senegal, birth registration has stagnated at 70% since 2012. Children may miss out on essential programmes – like child protection, health care and education – that help secure their most fundamental rights. Children living in urban areas have greater access to birth registration compared to rural areas.
Harmful cultural practices pose another risk to girls and boys in the country. An estimated 14 per cent of girls under 15 have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and, in 2016, 31.5 per cent of women 20 to 24 years old were married by age 18.
The 2016 gender assessment of the country programme showed important gender inequalities and interlinkages between school dropout, child marriage, early pregnancy and other harmful practices affecting girls, such as FGM/C. Adolescents, especially girls, have limited access to life-skills education, reproductive health services, proper menstrual hygiene or information about HIV prevention.
Harmful social norms and women’s lower status contribute to maintaining negative behaviours towards women and children, including violence against women.
No matter their story or circumstance, all children have the right to be protected from violence, exploitation and abuse. Child protection systems help children access vital social services– starting at birth.
In Senegal, UNICEF works to protect children from violence, exploitation and abuse. We partner with governments, businesses, civil-society organizations and communities to prevent all forms of violence against children.
Alongside communities, we work to accelerate the elimination of harmful practices, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation.
With the government and other partners, we strengthen civil registration systems and help improve children’s access to child-friendly, gender-sensitive justice systems. We also support governments with policy, legislation and regulatory frameworks that strengthen the social service workforce.
Innovations such as the Rapid Pro open-source platform for information sharing will strengthen monitoring, reporting and advocacy.
Throughout all we do, we listen to young people and their families to ensure their needs drive our programming and advocacy.
Our initiatives build alliances at all levels to leverage knowledge, raise awareness and encourage action.