|Photo © Mario Cruz | All Rights Reserved|
The long tradition of sending boys to study at Islamic boarding schools (also called madrasas) in Islamic countries is often rooted in positive values of religious and moral education, and on teaching classical theological, legal, and Qur'anic texts. However, politics and social exploitation have intruded in some of these institutions.
Over the last decade in Senegal, the educational purpose of these boarding schools has been used by unscrupulous so-called teachers to exploit thousands of children who are known as "talibes"...the Arabic term for students..
Cruz spent months documenting the physical abuse of talibes, although much of it takes place behind the closed doors of these "schools". The teachers also known as "marabout" (A North African term for a learned Islamic teacher), know that their actions of treating these children as slaves, and sending them into the streets to beg and steal are criminal, but it's a slow progress to apprehend them and close down these schools due to Senegal's limited resources.
The number of children exploited by this system of modern-day slavery is estimated to number as many as 30,000 in the Dakar region alone and 50,000 across the country.
Mario Cruz is a Portuguese photojournalist, and studied studied photojournalism at Cenjor - Professional School of Journalism. In 2006 he began working with LUSA – Portuguese News Agency / EPA – European Pressphoto Agency. Since 2012, he has been focused on his personal projects dedicated to social justice and human rights.