02 October 2012

End Slavery in Mauritania

Slavery in Mauritania is an entrenched phenomenon the national government just made slavery a criminal offence very recently in 2007. The country, which is located on Africa’s West Coast, has a long-standing and disturbingly prevalent tradition of slavery. Mauritania is the last place on earth where you can still buy and sell a human being.

The number of slaves in the country was not known exactly, but it was estimated to be up to 600,000 men, women and children, or 20% of the population of 3,069,000 people. Even though slavery is illegal, sociologist Kevin Bales believes that Mauritania is the country with the largest proportion of its population in slavery.

The trade stretches back to the times of the Roman Empire. Mauritanian slaves work dirty, undesirable jobs, eat little more than leftovers, sleep in crude rock shelters, and do not attend school as children. In addition, they must often endure physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.

Mauritanian organizations like Al'Hor الحر (translated as "the free"), In'itaq إنعتاق (translated as "emancipation") and SOS Esclaves (meaning "SOS Slaves" in French) work against slavery.

 A United Nations mission, headed by UN Special Rapporteur and mission leader Gulnara Shahinian, was in Mauritania in November 2009 to evaluate slavery practices in the country. The mission's findings were presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in August 2010.

Incidences of slavery still persist in Mauritania, especially among the rural populations and on the periphery of big towns.

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