Main Menu
Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025              

Republic of Guinea-Bissau

One of the five poorest countries in the world, Guinea-Bissau depends mainly on farming and fishing. Cashew crops have increased remarkably in recent years, and the country now ranks fifth in cashew production. Guinea-Bissau exports fish and seafood along with small amounts of peanuts, palm kernels, and timber. Rice is the major crop and staple food.

The inequality of income distribution is one of the most extreme in the world. The government and international donors continue to work out plans to forward economic development from a lamentably low base.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau is a source country for children trafficked to other West African countries and within the country for forced begging, forced agricultural labor, and commercial sexual exploitation. The majority of victims are boys who are religious students, called talibe, who are trafficked by religious instructors called marabouts to other West African countries, primarily Senegal, for forced begging.

Deceived into believing that their children will receive a religious education, parents often agree to send their child away with marabouts. Instead, the instructors force the children to beg daily for up to 12 hours in urban centers and physically abuse them if they fail to collect a certain quota of money. Bissau-Guinean boys are also trafficked to Senegal for forced labor in cotton fields. NGOs report that Bissau-Guinean girls who perform domestic work within the country and in Senegal may be victims of trafficking, while girls reportedly are trafficked to Senegal for forced domestic labor. Within Guinea-Bissau, girls are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation in small bars and restaurants. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009    Check out a later country report here or a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Guinea-Bissau.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Guinea-Bissau-Senegal: On the child trafficking route

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Bafata, 23 November 2007

[accessed 1 March 2015]

Children, brought from Guinea-Bissau to Senegal years ago, line up at the airport in Dakar to return home after years of beatings and forced begging.

100,000 CHILD BEGGARS - In 2004, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated there were up to 100,000 child beggars in Senegal (close to one percent of the population), the majority of them talibés. The head of UNICEF in Guinea-Bissau, Jean Dricot, says most of those child beggars come from Guinea-Bissau.  “They don’t have schools. They don’t have access to healthcare. They sleep 40 or 50 to a room. They spend all day on the street getting money that they have to hand over at night,” Dricot said.  Jorge, the young talibé, is now back in his country, owing to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and a Senegalese government-run welcome centre called Ginddi, two of many institutions assisting in the repatriation of children to Guinea-Bissau.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Guinea Bissau

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 8 June 2021]


The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor, but the government did not effectively enforce the laws. Prescribed penalties were not commensurate with those for other serious crimes, but the government did not use these or other relevant laws to prosecute cases of forced labor. Forced child labor occurred (see section 7.c).


Child labor occurred in farming, fishing, domestic work, and street work. Forced child labor occurred in domestic service; begging; agriculture and mining; shoe shining; and selling food on urban streets. Some religious teachers, known as marabouts, deceived boys and their families by promising a Quranic education but then put the boys to work or took them to neighboring countries for exploitation as forced beggars. Commercial sexual exploitation of children also occurred (see section 6).

Children in rural communities performed domestic labor and fieldwork without pay to help support their families. Minors in these situations as well as those who received some pay were frequently subjected to violence and sexual assault. According to a nongovernmental organization survey, nine in 10 domestic workers were physically abused by their employers.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


Guinea-Bissau is one of the world’s poorest countries, with most families relying on unstable employment in the informal economy or remittances from migrant workers abroad. Public services have deteriorated in recent years amid irregular payment of public-sector workers.

Boys are vulnerable to organized exploitation through forced begging and to forced labor in sectors including mining and agriculture. Girls are frequently victims of sexual exploitation or domestic servitude. Government officials have been accused of complicity in trafficking activity, including sex tourism schemes in the Bijagós islands.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 17 April 2019]

[accessed 28 April 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 482]

In Guinea-Bissau, organized networks of traffickers affiliated with Koranic schools force boys to beg within the country and in The Gambia, Guinea, Mali, and Senegal. (1) Although many Koranic school teachers provide religious education as traditionally intended, some force the students, known as talibés, to beg on the streets for money and food. (7) Most talibés originate from the predominantly Muslim areas of Bafatá and Gabú in the east of the country. (9) Boys are forced to work in street vending in Guinea-Bissau; they are trafficked for forced labor in agriculture, mining, and street vending in Senegal. Boys from neighboring countries are forced to beg and harvest cashews in Guinea-Bissau. (1) Girls are subjected to forced labor in street vending and domestic work in Guinea and Senegal. Girls are also engaged in commercial sexual exploitation in the Bijagós Archipelago of Guinea-Bissau, on mainland Guinea-Bissau in bars and hotels, and in Senegal. (8; 1).

Child victims of human trafficking rescued in Guinea Bissau

ASemana, 18 November 2007

[accessed 8 February 2011]

More than 50 children from Guinea Bissau were rescued by police in the city of Bafatá, in the eastern region of the country, as they were being prepared to be trafficked to work on cotton plantations in Senegal.

Five Years After Stockholm [PDF]

ECPAT: Fifth Report on implementation of the Agenda for Action [DOC]

ECPAT International, November 2001

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly also be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 September 2011]

[B] COUNTRY UPDATES – GUINEA-BISSAUGuinea-Bissau has an ever-increasing number of child laborers and street children. The economic crisis and instability are hitting children the hardest, resulting in a rise in child prostitution and child trafficking, especially to neighboring Senegal. NGOs think that although the issue of child trafficking has received some attention and publicity recently in West and Central Africa, trafficking of children from Guinea-Bissau has been largely ignored. The local press has also reported incidents of child prostitution.

UN alarmed at rise in drug trafficking

Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Bissau, 31 January 2006

[accessed 9 March 2015]

The former Portuguese colony is ranked 172 of 177 countries in the UN’s Human Development Index. The cash-strapped government has no coastguard; police have no cars and the navy no boats for patrolling national waters where scattered tiny islands make a haven for smugglers.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 7th June 2002

[accessed 8 February 2011]

[32] The Committee is concerned that: (c) the common use of "informal adoption" procedures can lead to the violation of children's rights.

The Protection Project - Guinea-Bissau [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[Last accessed 2009]

TRAFFICKING ROUTES - Internal trafficking exists in Guinea-Bissau

NONGOVERNMENTAL AND INTL ORGANIZATION RESPONSES - UNICEF is implementing a 5-year program in Guinea-Bissau that will cover child protection, nutritional health, primary education and literacy, and social communication policy. The program also aims at improving the treatment of victims of child trafficking and sexual exploitation.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The law does not prohibit trafficking in persons, and there were reports that children were trafficked from or within the country. The government has not prosecuted any cases against traffickers. The Ministry of Interior has responsibility for anti-trafficking efforts; however, the government had no national plan to combat trafficking or the capability to monitor, interdict, or prosecute traffickers.

Some boys sent from rural areas to attend Koranic schools in Senegal reportedly were exploited and forced to beg to earn money for the school leadership. The practice of buying and selling child brides also reportedly occurred on occasion.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 8 February 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

CHILD LABOR LAWS AND ENFORCEMENT - In order to prevent trafficking, the law requires that an individual responsible for a child traveling overseas submit identification documents (birth certificates) to relevant authorities.  According to the U.S. Department of State, formal sector employers typically adhere to the minimum age requirements, but child labor occurred in the informal sector without oversight or enforcement by the Ministry of Justice or the Ministry of Civil Service and Labor.  There is no information available on the enforcement of laws pertaining to trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation of children.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery – Guinea Bissau",, [accessed <date>]