Breaking the silence around underage girls exposed and/or victims of commercial sexual exploitation in Mali (Bamako, and the regions of Segou, Sikasso, Mopti)
Fanta (the first name has been changed), 14, from Bamako is one of these exploited young girls:
I was a street vendor for my mother at the S… market in Bamako. I had to leave school after my father’s death because my mother could no longer pay for my studies. To help my mother with the expenses of the house, I used to hang merchandise at the Great Mosque of Bamako where I sometimes stayed late at night. It was other girls who were involved in prostitution, who encouraged me to prostitute myself at night, first at the big market in Bamako and then in a bar and since then I have always prostituted myself in the bar. I help my mother with the daily expenses. I would like to have a dyeing training to leave this job.
Bamako, Segou, Sikasso and Mopti. These cities are selected because they meet one or more of these criteria: economic and tourist attractiveness, border proximity, gold sites with a prevalence of children exposed and/or victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
January 2017-December 2019
The Malian population is characterized by its extreme youth: the under-18s represent more than half (53.0%) of the 15.84 million inhabitants. The under-15s alone represent 46.6% of the population.
Unfortunately, Mali is not spared from the sexual exploitation of its children, and many of them are among the millions exploited around the world every year. A quantitative and qualitative study that we carried out in March 2013 shows that 28.3% or 417 children out of 1472 children in the sample were victims of prostitution and trafficking for sexual purposes. More than 90% of these victims are girls. Girls between the ages of 12 and 15 are very often sexually abused in exchange for protection, material goods or simply money: a 1,000 CFA note or 1.45€ is the price of sexual abuse.
Children who are victims of sexual exploitation are children who, for the most part, have suffered physical and psychological abuse, including sexual abuse in the family, children from broken, reconstituted or completely separated from the family. Others come from families living in precarious economic situations. For many, it is children who find themselves on the street for different reasons, while others are forced to do so to provide for the family’s basic needs.
The consequences of the commercial sexual exploitation of children are multiple. An abused child is a child raped in the flesh and soul, and sexual exploitation significantly disrupts the psychological, physical and social development of the child victim. A multidisciplinary approach to the care (psychological, health and social) of these child victims is therefore essential to enable the child victim to build himself, rebuild his bearings and regain confidence in himself, society, life and above all his own life.
Strengthen the protection (prevention, psychosocial care, reintegration and rehabilitation) of underage girls at risk and/or victims of sexual exploitation
- The capacities of social workers in the partner structures of the project are strengthened in the field of sexual exploitation (SE).
- Children are sensitized and/or strengthened in their life skills to self-protection in SE.
- Communities in Mali are sensitized to the phenomenon of SE in Mali.
- The social and political environment is conducive to the protection of children from SE.
- Children actively participate in actions to combat SE.
- Underage girls who are victims of SE receive psychosocial care on the streets and in reception centres.
- Minor girls exposed to or victims of SE benefit from support measures for rehabilitation and socio-professional reintegration.
- Adolescent girls and young women in street situations at risk of sexual exploitation and/or victims of sexual exploitation
- Girls victims of sexual exploitation hosted at the Caritas Centre in Bamako and the Catholic National Office for Children
- Children and parents of the Community Listening Centres
- Peer child educators
- Children’s Parliament
- Children of the Association for the Promotion of Young People and Children Communicators
- Social workers from the project partner structures
- Judicial Police
- Traditional communicators and community leaders
- Media professionals
- 497 child protection social workers from partner structures trained to strengthen their capacity to care for child victims of sexual exploitation.
- 2632 girls sensitized and/or strengthened in their life skills to self-protection in SE.
- 6664 people are aware of the SE phenomenon in Mali.
- 2100 children actively participate in actions to combat SE.
- 238 underage girls who are victims of SE receive psychosocial care on the streets and in reception centres.
- 238 girls who are minors at risk or victims of SE benefit from support measures for rehabilitation and socio-professional reintegration.
- 106 minor girls who are victims of SE receive psychotherapeutic and legal care.
- 30 media professionals are trained on their role and responsibility in the fight against SE in Bamako.
Project Implementation Partners
Samu Social Mali: Samu social Mali aims to combat the social exclusion of street children and young people, boys and girls from 0 to 18 years of age, and sometimes beyond this “legal” age, especially for young girls/young mothers living and sleeping on the streets of Bamako. The team provides medical, psychosocial and educational assistance to these children and young people in their place of residence, thanks to an emergency night intervention, supplemented by daytime follow-up, through both medical and psychosocial care, in particular support, referrals to a network of specialised partner structures.
BNCE Mali (Catholic National Bureau for Children): Organization committed to the promotion and protection of the dignity and rights of the child in Mali, which is also a member and partner of the BICE network (International Catholic Bureau for Children). The BNCE will take in girls identified as at risk and/or victims of sexual exploitation in their centres in Ségou, Sikasso and Mopti.
CARITAS Mali: AET (Action Enfants de Tous) Bamako: Caritas Mali has launched an initiative called Action Enfant de Tous (AET) which coordinates the social and development actions of the diocese of Bamako. The girls’ home in Bamako will accommodate girls identified as at risk and/or victims of sexual exploitation in the Bamako district.
AV.ES: Avenir Enfance du Sahel: As a partner of ECPAT Luxembourg since June 2007, AV.ES is a national NGO working to protect and promote the rights of the child at the national level. It will act upstream mainly in the Mopti and Douanza region (region providing very young migrant girls from 9 years of age!) with community leaders, communities and families.
Ministère des Affaires Etrangères et Européennes de Luxembourg
 INSTAT : 4ème Recensement Général de la Population et de l’Habitat – Résultats définitifs, novembre 2011.