20 April 2008

Child trafficking in North Africa

Here's a link to a pretty good feature story written by Associated Press reporter Rukmini Callimachi. She outlines the problem of child trafficking in North Africa being done under the cover of religious instruction.

In a nutshell, parents send their kids off to the big cities to learn the Quran, as an educated child will bring them salvation in the next life, if not good fortune in this one. Once under the control of an instructor, the children are sent out to beg on the streets for nine hours a day and given only two hours of Quranic instruction.

Children, some of whom are as young as three, are beaten if they don't meet the quotas set for them.

It's a new phenomenon, and many countries are trying to put an end to it by threatening jail time to parents who send their children away.

Heartbreaking stuff.

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