Friday, November 15, 2013

Blog 10: Mauritania Confronts Long Legacy of Slavery

Protesters gathered in front of a police station located in Boutilimit, Mauritania to demand the end of slavery. They specifically wanted the arrest of a family who was accused of holding a slave since childhood.  The girl, now 18, was forced to work menial tasks and sometimes even beaten by the family that enslaved her since the age of 4. Her mother had also worked for the same family but was replaced by her daughter. The authorities briefly detained several members of the family accused of enslaving the girl but the prosecutor released them saying there was no evidence of the crime. As the protests continued for weeks, demonstrators were arrested and beaten while the slave masters remained undistributed by authorities. According to the 2013 Global Slavery Index, Mauritania has the highest prevalence of slavery with as many as 140,000 or more of the nation’s 3.8 million enslaved.
Slavery is a sociological created problem because people are the creators of slavery, and they are the ones who can also destroy it. Because slavery is socially constructed, it also has social side effects that negatively impact the group of people who are being enslaved. For example, slavery creates a social imbalance in any society because there is always a superior group and an inferior group. In the case with Mauritania, Moors (light-skinned elites that are often a mixture of Berber and Arab) belong to the superior group and the dark skinned people living in poverty belong to the inferior group.

This also leads to injustice and continued cruelty, bigotry, racism, and denial of human rights for all. This was also the case with Mauritania who denies that there is a slavery problem and does nothing to people who enslave others because of the social standing in society. In the article it says that in 2007, a law criminalizing slavery was passed but three years later, nobody had been prosecuted under it. This is what caused uproar in demanding more attention towards ending slavery in Africa which has already existed for centuries. This is mostly affecting those families who are living in poverty because they are more likely to become enslaved than those who are living in the upper class. Slavery impacts families in various ways but by making it very difficult for families in poverty to move out of that state. It is especially difficult for females who are raped by their masters and become pregnant with his child. They are not guaranteed food or shelter if they leave and by staying they are continuing the cycle of slavery with their child.

Karina Velazquez
1:55 pm

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