The phenomenon of child trafficking is getting worse and worse in Benin, particularly in the areas of Atacora and Donga, where traffickers of children destined for exploitation in countries such as Niger, Togo, Nigeria or Ghana are regularly intercepted on the street.

Traffickers pretend to contribute to their social welfare by promising parents a better future for both the child and themselves. In this way, minors generally between the ages of 8 and 15 are entrusted to the neighboring countries and also to other regions of Benin for remunerative work.

The situation in Atacora

Mani Tese has been present for many years in Benin and in particular in the Atacora department, where it has carried out several projects to combat early school leaving, a phenomenon connected and often consequent to the trafficking of minors. According to the results of a survey conducted by the local organization “Fee-Développement”, and subsequently transmitted by the Benin News Agency (ABP) in 2020, 2096 children were reported as victims of trafficking in five municipalities of Atacora. The municipality of Kouandé leads this sad ranking with 794 identified cases, followed by other municipalities such as Matéri, Péhunco, Toucountouna and Cobly.

This phenomenon is spreading throughout the department leading many children to drop out of school. For the examination of the Certificate of Primary Education (CEP) of the June 2021 session, out of a total of 12078 registered candidates, 685 students were reported absent by the Examinations and Competitions Service of the Departmental Directorate of Infant and Primary Education of Atacora.

The tragedy of girls forced to drop out of school

The education situation in Atacora is particularly dramatic for girls. The illiteracy rate is very high but has a greater propensity among women, for whom the value is about 80%. Unfortunately, women are not educated because they take care of agriculture and the family, usually in conditions of submission. Due to low literacy levels, most of them do not own or manage money and are unable to start businesses. The unemployment rate of women in 2018 was in fact 51.7%.

Mani Tese’s projects

Mani Tese has developed several projects to fight early school leaving in three municipalities of the Atacora department (Natitingou, Toucountouna and Kouandé), which have helped raise awareness among girls, their teachers, and their families on the rights of boys and girls and on the importance of education. In total, 9 schools were involved.

The activity also included the creation of school attendance monitoring committees and support for the poorest families by providing seeds for the creation of fields to be cultivated.

Radio programs were then organized on two community radios to raise awareness about the importance of the right to education and the dangers of dropping out of school, especially for girls.

Mani Tese’s intervention allowed the communities to have a better awareness of the phenomenon of early school leaving and its consequences, however, there is still a lot to do because not all the villages of the three municipalities have been reached by the proposed activities and the the population’s determination to guarantee the right to education for boys and girls is still not enough.

Mani Tese’s commitment today continues with a new project, which aims to combat the trafficking of children and the phenomenon of early school leaving, focusing on the code of infancy existing in Benin.

Radio programs continue, during which the various issues addressed by the Childhood Code are presented.

The commitment also continues in schools, from 9 to 20, in which awareness paths are proposed on the importance of the right to education and on the factors and consequences of early school leaving, especially for girls.

The involvement of local institutions is of fundamental importance. In this regard, various meetings are planned between civil authorities, school directors and local community leaders in order to develop shared strategies for the protection and fight against the trafficking of boys and girls.

However, all these activities require support so any contribution is valuable and welcome!

Help us to support boys and girls who are victims of trafficking and school dropout in Benin with a small contribution: https://donazioni.manitese.it/en/

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