Despite the fact that slavery in the whole world has long been abolished, there is only one country in which slavery still continues to exist quite legally. In Mauritania, power belongs to the Berber Arabs, who captured this region of Africa about a millennium ago, subjugating the indigenous people - the Negroes. Since then, each Arab family has owned several Afro-Mauritanian Haratin families. Haratin families have been inherited in the families of the Moorish nobility for centuries. Slave laborers are entrusted with a variety of jobs - from caring for livestock to construction.
The cost of maintaining a slave in the city is about $ 15 a month, and an enterprising slave owner can earn many times more. One of the most common activities of slaves in the capital is the trade in fresh water. In the city, only 40% of buildings have running water, and the African heat perfectly stimulates thirst. So slaves with barrels full of water wander from morning to late evening in the capital, earning 5-10 dollars a day - very good money for these places.
Slavery is inherited, that is, the children of slaves belong to the owners of their parents. They can be sold, gifted, inherited or given as a dowry. A man's wealth is traditionally measured by the number of concubines he owns. The number of slaves in the country is estimated at 600, 000, which is 20% of the population.
Despite the official abolition of slavery, the ownership of slaves in the country is in the order of things, as well as forced labor. Police aiding slavery and the imprisonment of NGO activists working on forced labor and slavery have been reported. The government has banned the use of the word "slave" in the media. In the entire history of the state, only one slave owner was held accountable.
Over the past century, the government has tried three times to change the savage order in Mauritania. Back in 1905, the colonial authorities adopted a law abolishing slavery. And the constitution of liberated Mauritania, which was published in 1961, confirmed this postulate.
However, the laws did not change anything in the position of slaves. And in 1978, President Muktar Ould Dadda raised the issue of abolishing slavery again. But the military coup that began, deprived him of the opportunity to change something.
A government decree passed in November 1981 granted freedom to slaves again. However, the indistinctness of the law - it lacked even the procedure for punishment for disobeying this decision - changed little in the realities of Moorish life. The Berber elite once again let everything go on the brakes.
"End Slavery in the Name of Good"
Such a loud promise, coupled with promises to cut taxes and reduce the budget deficit by cutting salaries for officials, could not go unnoticed. Sidi Ould Sheikh Abdallahi, leader of the Liberal Adil Party, won the 2007 presidential election in Mauritania despite opposition from the Berber elite. And then he got down to business with passion. A law providing for a harsh punishment for slavery - 10 years in prison and fines ranging from 2 to 4 thousand dollars (huge money by Mauritanian standards) - has finally been passed. However, it remained an empty piece of paper.
Riots soon began, actively incited by the local elite, who did not want to be left without slaves. Less than a year later, Mauritania was overwhelmed by another coup. Power was in the strong hands of the military. So they simply forgot about the law - over the past five years, no one was brought to justice. De facto slavery was again allowed.
Interestingly, the slaves themselves do not really want to become free. The very fact that parents, grandfathers and great-grandfathers worked for the same family ties the slave to a familiar place. And most importantly, the slaves are convinced that after death they will go to heaven only if they fulfill the will of the masters. Psychologists who have studied this phenomenon have even come up with a name for it - Uncle Tom's syndrome. But more often than not, the former slave simply has nowhere to go. Life without a master is almost always full of hardships. You can't get a job in the village, the rich have no need for hiring newcomers, they have enough of their own slaves. And poor shepherds and farmers simply do not have the opportunity to feed a stranger, let alone pay. Given the high level of poverty and unemployment in the country (Below the poverty level - 40% of the population. Unemployment rate - 30%), the price of freedom is likely to be equal to starvation. Therefore, many of the slaves consider their share to be settled even before birth and oppose the idea of liberation.