Slavery in Mauritania
The Walk Free Foundation’s first Global Slavery Index ranked Mauritania as the nation with the highest percentage on Earth of its own people enslaved.
Estimate of enslaved people in Mauritania: 90,000 (Global Slavery Index)
Slavery technically abolished in 1981
Slavery technically criminalized in 2007
Activists outside of police station calling for a slave owner to be charged.
Faith Traditions Against Slavery
Mauritania's population is almost entirely Muslim. However, Mauritanian slave owners often distort the teachings of Islam in order to maintain control of their slaves. They tell them that Islam supports their brutal practice of slavery. This is not true and is disrespectful to a religion that has always counted notable abolitionists, and those who have struggled bravely against their own enslavement, as adherents.
The Abolition Institute, in coordination with the Council of Islamic Organization of Greater Chicago, recently organized a groundbreaking show of support by prominent American Muslim leaders for their fellow Muslims working against slavery in Mauritania. 70 American Islamic organizations, in an open letter published in Mauritania and covered by multiple Mauritanian news outlets, praised the Association of Mauritanian Oulema (religious scholars) for their strong statement that slavery is an illegal act with no basis in Islamic law and that working against slavery and its impact is a religious obligation.
Aichana Abeid Boilil Award
Every year on President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday – February 12th – the Abolition Institute honors those who are carrying on his legacy by fighting modern day slavery. Our Aichana Abeid Boilil Awards are named after the first woman rescued from slavery by our partner organization in Mauritania, SOS Esclaves. To this day, Aichana is still working hard to advocate against slavery in her country.