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Senegal : child prisoners learn fencing to stay out of trouble

Inside Senegal’s state penitentiary, jailed minors form an orderly queue. They are being driven away from the prison in Thiès to enter a studio and fight.

Senegal is experimenting with a new form of restorative justice where these child prisoners – whose offenses range from violence to theft – are being taught to fence in twice-weekly classes that take place outside of prison walls.
The aim? Teach the kids how to follow rules and regulations once they are released from prison. The program was developed by Association Pour le Sourire d’un Enfant (ASE) working with Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

While fencing may seem aggressive, officials with these groups say it’s taught the children, ages 13 to 17, how to respect each other and deal with sometimes losing matches.
“There are a lot of rules in fencing,” explains program manager Hawa Ba,“ [but] it’s a sport that is helping you regain your self-esteem.“

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