While she was one of the lucky ones – eventually set free in 2010 after the brother of her master advised him to “get rid of her” – she remains traumatised.
“I have survived all this, but I still have nightmares,” she told IRIN.
In spite of her past, Oumoul Khayri considers her release a new chance at a “normal” life:
"Each day, I go to my job in Arafat, sweeping and doing dishes, and then I come back and relax with my children, without anyone insulting me or ordering me around... I make tea when I feel like it and my children now go to school. They are no longer beaten.”
“The father of my daughters left us, so I have been the one fighting to take care of them,” Zeynabou told IRIN, as she pulled weeds from outside a soft drink bottling factory in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott.
The divorce rate among Haratine women is among the highest in Mauritania – an estimated 70 percent, according to local professor and sociologist Cheikh Saad Bouh Camara.
“Haratines, because of the poverty, because of the illiteracy, because of the urbanisation, and other causes bounded to their fragile social status, are the most likely to be divorced,” he said. “They almost always marry within their community, often against their will”