Haratin in Mauritania-Slavery

  • 2 minute read
  • • by Sharon Koifman
  • • September 29, 2022

More than a century and a half after slavery was abolished, in the United States and many countries in the world, we would expect slavery to be no more.

Unfortunately, the estimated number of enslaved people ranges from 21 to 46 million, which is approximately double to triple the amount of Africans that were exported during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. This means not only that the issue has not been solved, it has increased. And I’m not just talking about sex slaves that are being imported unanimously across the world by the millions, and we try to act like it does not exist.

Yet, in certain countries, the slave trade is out in the open and has become accepted even if it is supposedly illegal. Some of the biggest offenders are already known for so many other human rights violations, including North Korea, China, and Uzbekistan, but the Country that tops every list at least in percentage is a small and not very known country called Mauritania: nearly 20% of the country are people that are forced to work for no wage.

Mauritania was one of the last countries to outlaw slavery in 1981, and they only brought real law by 2007. Unfortunately, it led to no known conviction till now. This is simply because the law requires the slaves to make a claim with no help from any NGO, while the government also does not help rehabilitate the slave once they are free.

Mauritanians are a combination of the Arab-Berber population, who hold most of the educated authority jobs, and West African Haratin, who take on the job that the Arab-Berbers consider dirty. Unfortunately, the one with the dirty job would be considered lucky, Considering that half of the Haratin population are actually slaves. That’s 670,000 people, men, women, and children, inheriting unreasonable and fictitious debts.

Of course, Mauritania is guilty of other standard human rights violations. Lack of freedom of religion, harsh treatment in jail, lack of enforcement for abuse, rape, and mistreatment of humans. The same goes for child marriage and labor. But, lo and behold, unlike many countries on this list, Mauritania has surprisingly reasonable freedom of speech and of the press.

This is so unusual, but it is important because it makes it so easy to lobby and turn it into a world issue, yet for some strange reason, the slavery and other human rights issues in Mauritania are barely exposed. Maybe one day, the world would start lobbying for Haratin and tens of millions of other slaves around the world, and who knows, maybe then the UN would consider not putting Mauritania on the Human Rights Council. How do you like them apples?

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