Slavery Still the Norm in Mauritania

Mauritania was one of the last countries to ban slavery, doing so in 1981.  However, it was not until 5 years ago that the government actually started punishing slave owners for continuing to practice slavery.  It is estimated that as much as 10-20% of the Mauritanian population is still enslaved, although the government claims the practice no longer exists.  CNN has an interesting report on slavery in Mauritania, which can be found here: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2012/03/17/maritania-slavery-last-stronghold.cnn

One comment

  1. The video wouldn’t play for me, but it seems that CNN has a series feature of articles and photos on the issue, which are what I read/looking at – all quite haunting and sometimes otherwordly. And, in terms of slavery, this is almost literally true: Mauritania is an 18th century slaveowner’s dream. Slavery in many ways a memory from generations upon generations ago, but in this African country, not only is it very real, it exists in ways it never did here. The shackles are not physical; they are mental, slaves having been slaves for generations without imagining life any differently. Think The Matrix: why yearn for freedom if you do not even understand that you are enslaved? Except there is no red or blue pill. Slaves who have been freed struggle with the concept and sometimes consider life no different, except for being paid for their work. This becomes a prime example of where a legal remedy can only go so far.

    Mauritanians live in a society without social welfare systems like those that exist here; social welfare comes through the family. Slaves have no family in that sense, so that slavery works as a crude social welfare system. Reconstructing this system will be intensive. The U.S. government abolished slavery in 1856 and we are still dealing with its after-effects today. I expect that the paradigm shift needed to reconstruct social policies in Mauritania will take a very long time.

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