Abdoulaye, 15, is imprisoned at a Quranic school in Thies, Senegal, in May. The rooms have windows with security bars to keep the talibés, or students, from running away. Photographer Mario Cruz gained rare access to some corrupt Quranic schools in Senegal where students are being held against their will and forced to work for teachers.
Talibés read the Quran inside a school in Dakar, Senegal. They have to memorize different parts of the Quran each day before going to the streets to beg for their guardians, Cruz said.
A marabout, or teacher, whips a student in Rufisque, Senegal, after he made a mistake while reading the Quran. The students are also subjected to physical violence when they fail to get the daily quota imposed by the marabout, Cruz said.
A talibé reads the Quran inside a school in Dakar.
A talibé begs on the outskirts of Dakar.
A man gives money to talibés in Touba, Senegal.
Talibés wake up in Diamaguene, Senegal. Cruz said 30 children between the ages of 5 and 16 sleep here.
A talibé is bound by chains in Touba. In this school, the youngest are shackled by their ankles to stop them from trying to run away. These children can stay like that for days, weeks and even months until they gain the marabout's trust. Their guardian explained to Cruz: "When I release them, I give them the freedom to beg like the rest of the talibés."
Demba Fati, 14, is photographed outside the medical support room of Mason de la Gare, a local group that helps talibés in St. Louis, Senegal. Demba's marabout beat him with an iron rod after he tried to escape. Since then, he goes to Mason de la Gare whenever he needs medical care.
A former talibé rests under a mosquito net at the SOS Talibé Center in Bafata, Guinea-Bissau.
Children who used to be talibés cool off at the SOS Talibé Center in Bafata.
Military police approach a group of children walking through a forest area near the Guinea-Bissau border. Cruz learned that many talibés are kidnapped and trafficked from Guinea-Bissau.