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Slaves Bought and Sold Like Baseball Cards

Mauritania and Chattel Slavery are Intertwined

Chattel slavery is the worst. Mauritania abolished chattel slavery in 1981 and criminalized it after passing the Slavery Act No. 2007 and 2015, but the laws failed to end Chattel slavery.

Mauritania Abolished Chattel Slavery in 1981

Chattel Slavery Definition

In the Chattel slavery system, individuals who were enslaved were considered the personal property of their owners for life. They are treated as a source of labor and were bought, sold, or traded like baseball cards anytime, anywhere, for any reason. This system is one of the most lucrative institutions in history, producing immense wealth and providing social and political power to those who benefit from it.

Mauritania Slavery Acts of 2007 and 2015

France declared an end to Chattel slavery in Mauritania in 1905 during its colonial occupation of the country but ultimately declined to enforce the decision because, it said, it wanted to respect local traditions and the Mauritanian social fabric while also protecting the colonial and local economies. 

Mauritania abolished chattel slavery in 1981 but failed to enforce the law. The Slavery Act No. 2007-048 of September 3, 2007, criminalized slavery and slavery-like practices. The adoption of Law 2015-031, also criminalizing slavery and slavery-like practices, addressed many of the gaps in Mauritania's previous anti-slavery legislation. 

Mauritania and Chattel Slavery are Intertwined

For many years, Mauritania has been known for its widespread practice of Chattel slavery. In this country, the Bidan or White Moors, who are the economically and politically dominant group, have historically enslaved the Black Moors, also known as Haratines. This form of slavery is deeply entrenched in Mauritanian society, with many Haratines being born into it and forced to work for their masters without pay or any legal recourse. 

Despite efforts to abolish Chattel slavery, it continues to persist in Mauritania, leaving many Haratines trapped in a cycle of oppression and exploitation. Haratines are Arabic-speaking descendants of African origin who are or were enslaved by White Moors. Most formerly enslaved people and their descendants, Haratins, form a separate cultural linguistics group. Chattel slavery in Mauritania is similar to historical slavery, subjugating one race or religious group to another.

Denial of Education to Black Moors Perpetuate Chattel Slavery

The denial of education to black Moors also helps to perpetuate Chattel slavery. Without access to formal employment and education, victims of Chattel slavery and their children have no viable pathways out of Chattel slavery and remain trapped in a vicious circle of dependence on their enslavers or exploitative forms of work.

Mauritania abolished Chattel slavery in 1981, made it a criminal offense in 2007, additional legislation was added in 2015; however, the millennium-old practice persists mainly because anti-slavery laws are rarely enforced, and the custom is so ingrained. Mauritania was the last country on Earth to create legislation to abolish Chattel slavery officially.

According to the CIA World Factbook, a 2018 nongovernmental organization reported a little more than 2% of Mauritania's population is enslaved, which includes individuals subjected to forced labor and forced marriage, while many thousands of legally free individuals contend with discrimination, poor education, and a lack of identity papers and, therefore, live in de facto slavery.  

The United Nations cautioned that descent-based and contemporary forms of slavery continue to exist in Mauritania, within and among all of the country's major ethnic groups, as well as between certain groups. "Chattel slavery persists in Mauritania, despite the denial of the practice in some quarters," UN human rights expert Tomoya Obokata said in a May 13, 2022 statement.

Chattel Slavery vs Human Trafficking

In chattel slavery, race is the dominant factor. In Human Trafficking, the dominant factor is taking advantage of the vulnerable. Throughout Chattel slavery history, blacks were born into enslavement, as opposed to the current day, where psychologically, emotionally, and economically vulnerable people of all races are predominantly groomed and recruited into human trafficking. 

Chattel slavery and human trafficking are unrelenting torture physically, psychologically, and emotionally where race is not the main factor but greed, where men, women, and children are forcibly sold or transferred from owner to owner against their will, spill their blood, sweat, and tears to build generational wealth for enslavers, i.e., human traffickers worldwide. 

Did you know?

The term "slavery" originated from the Latin word "sclava," which meant Slavonic captive in the 9th century. However, over time, it came to refer to anyone held in captivity, not just Slavs.

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