"There are an estimated 155,000 modern-day slaves in Mauritania."
July 2, 2015 2:26 PM   Subscribe

A photo feature on five Mauritanian women, now freed from contemporary slavery. Slavery in Mauritania has been called a major human rights issue, with roughly 4% (155,600 people) of the country's population – proportionally the highest for any country – being enslaved against their will. [1]
posted by DarlingBri (9 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I remember reading about this in a book about modern day slavery, most notably was that the slave owners weren't all that wealthy themselves. In particular they mostly just spent their money that they "saved" on sugary drinks.

Appalling, except that I drink diet cokes when I could be saving that money and putting it to an antislavery cause.
posted by aetg at 4:47 PM on July 2, 2015

I was pretty shocked to see this. I had no idea the practice of slavery still went on in a widely accepted way anywhere in the world today. No idea. Then I felt like a very poor world citizen for not knowing.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:13 PM on July 2, 2015

I first learned about this on MetaFilter a couple years ago. I am so happy for and proud of these women. They have endured more than I ever could.
posted by Falconetti at 5:23 PM on July 2, 2015

Is there a reputable org dedicated to helping these people? I burned out on human rights work early, but now I at least have a little cash to throw at this problem.
posted by zennie at 6:07 PM on July 2, 2015

In 1981, Mauritania “officially” abolished slavery and declared that it no longer existed; the country was the last in the world to do so. But according to Kevin Bales, author of Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, this was “essentially a public-relations exercise,” and “no one bothered to tell the slaves about it.”

Under continued scrutiny, the country passed a law in 2007 that criminalized slavery and threatened to punish violators with a 10 year prison sentence. To this day, only one case against a slave owner has ended in a conviction; the accused, Oumoulmoumnine Mint Bakar Vall, received a reduced two year sentence and was released after only four months, upon paying a 200,000 ouguiya ($677) fine. The anti-slavery activists who brought the case to the attention of the government were falsely imprisoned and served a six month sentence -- more than the man they fought to bring to justice.
posted by zennie at 6:20 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

I just watched the slavery animation in the other thread and shudder to imagine what a similar, global animation of 20th/21st century slavery and human trafficking would look like, if it were even possible to collect the data. yeah, slavery is alive and well across much of the world but those people are conveniently invisible right?
posted by supermedusa at 6:44 PM on July 2, 2015

Mauritania seems like such a weird, compelling, and problematic country in so many ways. I have seen it from the air and it has a tremendously stark and rugged beauty; people I know who worked there say it is a very hard place to be as an outsider. The local antislavery movement there gets attention every so often and the stories are heartbreaking. I hope they succeed in their struggle and create genuine freedom.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:33 PM on July 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks for posting. I've been to Mauritania but I had no idea.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:02 AM on July 3, 2015

Travelled through Mauritania 10 years ago. Beautiful landscapes, depressing country.

Mauritania has some campsites, almost all of them managed by french expats for foreign tourists who travel by car to Mauritania to drive 4WD in the desert. Almost all the campsites had local (black) employees that loved to work there because the boss did not hit them and paid them fair salaries.

Once someone explained to me how the slavery worked it was fairly easy to identify that the black servants doing menial work where slaves and not under-paid workers as you found in Morocco or Senegal.

It was interesting to see a racial angle to it: slaves use to be black while owners were of Bedouin origin.

Even 'free men' from lowly origin were equally mistreated as no policemen or judge would put on a trial a Bedouin that did not pay a black person after working for him for a year. They're lucky enough if they got a bed and some daily food and did not hit them too much.

Depressing country.
posted by Tiet Peret at 7:42 AM on July 3, 2015

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