Birth Registration: Citizenship is acquired by birth or naturalization. Only the father can automatically transmit nationality to legitimate children; the mother can do so only if her husband is stateless. Legitimate children born to Senegalese women with foreign husbands have the option to acquire citizenship between the ages of 18 and 25. Illegitimate children acquire the citizenship of the first known parent at birth. The law does not make birth declaration mandatory, but birth certificates are required for enrolling children in school and obtaining other civil documents. According to the UNFPA, approximately 55 percent of all births were registered. Registering births required travel to a registration center and payment of a small fee, although a program initiated by Swiss NGO Aid and Action allowed village chiefs in some areas to register births by text messaging.
Education: The law provides for tuition-free, compulsory education for children between the ages of six and 16; however, many children did not attend school due to lack of resources or available facilities. Students often had to pay for their own books, uniforms, and other school supplies.
Girls encountered greater difficulties in continuing in school beyond the elementary level. When families could not afford for all their children to attend school, parents tended to remove daughters rather than sons from school. Sexual harassment by school staff and early pregnancy also caused the departure of girls from school. The UN Children’s Fund reported schools enrolled 28 percent of boys in secondary education, compared with 22 percent of girls.
Child Abuse: Child abuse was common, particularly among “talibes,” children sent by their parents to study in Quranic schools. At some Quranic schools these children were exploited, physically abused, and forced to beg on street corners. Since they begged full time, they devoted almost no time to Quranic studies. In January a study conducted by the government’s taskforce on trafficking found an estimated 54,800 talibes in the Dakar region alone. Of this number an estimated 30,100 were forced to beg. Most talibes were approximately 10 years old, although some reportedly were as young as age two.
Early and Forced Marriage: By law women have the right to choose when and whom they marry, but traditional practices restricted a woman’s choice. The law prohibits the marriage of girls younger than 16, but this law generally was not enforced in most communities where marriages were arranged. Under certain conditions a judge may grant a special dispensation for marriage to a person below the age of consent. According to the UNFPA, 33 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married before the age of 18, based on surveys completed between 2000 and 2011.
Officials from the Ministry of Women, Family, Social Development, and Women’s Entrepreneurship and women’s rights groups stated child marriage was a significant problem in parts of the country, particularly in rural areas, and they undertook educational campaigns to address it.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): FGM/C is a criminal offense, but almost all girls in the northern Fouta Region were victims of FGM/C, as were 60 to 70 percent of girls in the south and southeast. Sealing, one of the most extreme and dangerous forms of FGM/C, was sometimes practiced by the Toucouleur, Mandinka, Soninke, Peul, and Bambara ethnic groups, particularly in rural and some urban areas. According to the NGO German Society for International Cooperation, excision, type II, was the form of FGM/C most frequently practiced. According to 2012-13 survey data from the National Institute for Statistics, FGM/C had been performed on18 percent of girls below age 14.
The government collaborated with the NGO Tostan and other groups to educate individuals about FGM/C’s inherent dangers. The government also collaborated with the NGO Group for Population Studies and Education to develop a course on the dangers of FGM/C, which was being integrated into high school and college curriculums. At the community level, Tostan continued to implement a three-year community empowerment program that influenced 760 villages to decide to abandon FGM/C.
In collaboration with key stakeholders across 14 regions, the Ministry of Justice developed a work plan to enforce the law against FGM/C and to monitor compliance with anti-FGM/C programs. In villages that participated in the Tostan program and declared FGM/C abandonment, enforcement committees were formed to assure that families complied with the declaration. The Ministry of Women, Family, Social Development, and Women’s Entrepreneurship organized workshops across the country to encourage application of the law. Administrative authorities, local elected officials, and representatives of community-based organizations attended such workshops.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law provides that convicted sexual abusers of children receive five to 10 years’ imprisonment. If the offender is a family member, the maximum is applied. Any offense against the decency of a child is punishable by imprisonment for two to five years and in certain aggravated cases up to 10 years. Procuring a minor for prostitution is punishable by imprisonment for two to five years and a fine of 300,000 to four million CFA francs ($570 to $7,570). If the crime involves a victim younger than 13, the maximum penalty is applied. The law was not effectively enforced.
In the southeast gold mining region of Kedougou, exploitation of women and girls in prostitution was a problem. During the year police investigated reports of exploitation and convicted perpetrators in two cases.
The minimum age of consensual sex is 18. Due to social pressures and fear of embarrassment, incest remained taboo and often went unreported and unpunished.
Pornography is prohibited. Pornography involving children under the age of 16 is considered pedophilia and punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment and fines of up to 300,000 CFA francs ($570). There were no reports of child sex tourism.
Infanticide or Infanticide of Children with Disabilities: Infanticide, usually due to poverty or embarrassment, continued to be a problem. Domestic workers and rural women working in cities sometimes killed their newborns if they could not care for them. Others married to men working outside the country killed their infants out of shame. According to the African Assembly for the Defense of Human Rights, infanticide also occurred when a woman became pregnant with the child of a man from a prohibited occupational caste. In some cases the families of the women shamed them into killing their babies. If police discovered the identity of the mother, she faced arrest and prosecution.
Displaced Children: Many children displaced by the Casamance conflict lived with extended family members, neighbors, in children’s homes, or on the streets. According to NGOs in Casamance, displaced children suffered from the psychological effects of conflict, malnutrition, and poor health.
International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.