As reported over the past five years, Guinea-Bissau is a source country for children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking and a destination for West African boys exploited in forced labor, including forced begging. The extent to which adults are subjected to forced labor or forced prostitution is unclear. Many Bissau-Guinean boys attend Quranic schools led by marabouts. Some corrupt marabouts force their students to beg and do not provide an education. Unscrupulous marabouts force rural Bissau-Guinean boys to beg in cities, including Bissau’s Afia neighborhood. The traffickers are principally men from the Bafata and Gabu regions—often former talibes or men who claim to be working for a marabout—and are generally well-known within the communities in which they operate. Marabouts increasingly force Guinean, Gambian, and Sierra Leonean boys to beg in Bissau. Corrupt marabouts exploit Guinea-Bissau’s weak institutions and porous borders to transport large numbers of Bissau-Guinean boys to Senegal—and to a lesser extent Mali, Guinea, and The Gambia—for forced begging in Quranic schools. Bissau-Guineans, primarily from Bafata and Gabu, made up at least 310 of the 838 trafficking victims identified in Dakar, Senegal, between July and November 2016. NGOs in Guinea Bissau report many repatriated talibes are extremely vulnerable to re-trafficking.
Bissau-Guinean boys are forced into street vending in Guinea-Bissau and forced to labor in the agricultural, mining, and street vending sectors in Senegal, especially in the southern cities of Kolda and Ziguinchor. West African boys are forced to harvest cashews during Guinea-Bissau’s annual harvest, and some are recruited for work in the harvest but instead forced to beg. Bissau-Guinean girls are forced into street vending and domestic work in Guinea and Senegal. During the reporting period, a Bissau-Guinean woman living in Luxembourg transported her niece to Luxembourg with false documents and forced her to work in a restaurant. Bissau-Guinean girls are recruited by female Senegalese trafficking networks for modeling jobs or traveling football clubs but then subjected to sex trafficking in Senegal. Bissau-Guinean girls are exploited in sex trafficking in bars, nightclubs, and hotels in Bissau.
Bissau-Guinean girls from the Bijagos—and to a lesser extent mainland girls and boys—are exploited in child sex tourism in the Bijagos, an archipelago off the coast of Guinea-Bissau that is far from the mainland and largely devoid of government and law enforcement presence. Although the extent of the problem is unknown, it is widely acknowledged among civil society, NGOs, and mid-level government officials. In most cases, French-nationals own hotels on the islands and use Bissau-Guinean middlemen to exploit island girls aged 13-17 years old for European child sex tourists, including French and Belgians. International sources report these same hotel owners provide jobs and significant support to the island community, wielding influence that can deter victims from notifying law enforcement. Poor families may encourage their children to endure such exploitation for financial gain. Bissau-Guinean men from the mainland fuel local demand for commercial sex on the islands. There were reports of official complicity in human trafficking among island officials and in the judiciary. Guinea-Bissau’s judicial system lacked sufficient human and physical capital to function properly, and corruption remained pervasive.