FAQs: Slavery in Mauritania

FAQs One: Why focus on Mauritania?

Answer: Mauritania was the last country in the world to abolish slavery and there was NO law providing for the PUNISHMENT of slave-owning before 2007. Even after the 2007 law, no slave owner has been punished as prescribed by this law. According to the Global Slavery Index, by Walk Free, Mauritania has the highest proportion of enslavement of any country in the world.

FAQs Two: What is slavery?

Slavery is the extreme subjection of a person. The slave is property, owned by another human being. As property, the slave is like a cow or a goat, to be used as the master pleases. One powerful set of stories on slavery and the difficulties faced by escaped slaves is here.

FAQs Three: Is there something different about slavery in Mauritania?

In many ways slavery in Mauritania is like the slavery in the pre-Civil War United States. The laws and culture supporting slavery in Mauritania are in the Malikite jurisprudence used in Mauritanian courts. (that is why Biram Dah Abeid destroyed books of Malikite jurisprudence in 2012).

But Mauritanian slavery is different because this is now the 21st Century!  Slavery is opposed by laws around the world. International law opposes slavery.

FAQs Four: Why Build a Maison des Esclaves?

The government in Mauritania does not help people trying to escape slavery. IRA and SOS-esclaves help people to escape slavery, and then those ex-slaves need to rebuild their lives. Poverty and ignorance and bruised and broken bodies is what they bring with them from slavery. These ex-slaves have nothing and nobody to help them. Sometimes to escape starvation, they are forced to go back to their old masters.

The Maison des Esclaves will provide refuge for those escaping slavery. The residential program is for those actively escaping.

The Maison des Eslaves will also provide life-skills education and cultural services for a much broader population of escaped slaves.

Watch Our Maison des Esclaves Video

FAQs Five: How can you help the slaves and former slaves in Mauritania?

You can join our work by volunteering to work with us. Please contact us via our website if you want to help with our work. You can also help by making a tax deductible donation.


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