Secret slaves of Mauritania: Mother and daughter were beaten and raped (and only escaped after their children were murdered)

Daily Mail:

By Liz Hazelton

PUBLISHED: 03:53 EST, 28 March 2012 | UPDATED: 09:17 EST, 28 March 2012

They perch awkwardly on an imitation rococo sofa in a nondescript room in the desert wastes of Mauritania.

And though the setting is incongruous, it is not as out of place as the horrific tale that Moulkheir Mint Yarba and her daughter Selek’ha have to tell.

Their story – of casual brutality, rape, slavery and the murder of their children – is one that does not belong to the 21st century.

But perhaps the most shocking part of their experience, told in a new CNN investigation Slavery’s Last Stronghold – is that it is not uncommon.

Free: Moulkheir Mint Yarba (left) and her daughter Selek'ha were both raped and abused by their masters but escaped with the help of a charity in Mauritania Free: Moulkheir Mint Yarba (left) and her daughter Selek’ha were both raped and abused by their masters but escaped with the help of a charity in Mauritania

In 1981, Mauritania became the last country in the world to abolish slavery. Owning another person did not become illegal until 2007 and there has only been one successful prosecution.

The United Nations estimates that between 10 and 20 per cent of the 3.4million population are enslaved.



Moulkheir, who is in her 40s, was born a slave and spent her childhood tending her master’s herds. When she reached puberty, her owner took her out into the fields and raped her for the first time.

In the next few years, she was to bear him five children – all of whom were also born into slavery.

Staggeringly, the tradition is so ingrained in the Mauritanian psyche that Moulkheir did not even question the way she was treated.

Face of freedom: Moulkheir's five children were also all born slavesFace of freedom: Moulkheir’s five children were also all born slaves

‘I was like an animal living with animals,’ she told CNN’s John D. Sutter when he visited the country in December as part of the network’s ongoing Freedom Project, which was set up to fight modern day slavery.

The cataclysmic event which was to shatter her existence forever took place on an ordinary afternoon when she returned home from tending the goats.

Lying dead in the dust outside the hut was her youngest child, a little girl who had only just started to crawl.

Moulkheir’s master – and the child’s father – had dumped the baby outside to die.

He told her she would work faster without the girl tied to her back.

Moulkheir asked to bury the baby. The man refused.

‘(He told me) her soul was a dog’s soul,’ she said.

She was only able to lay her child to rest at the end of the day, in a shallow grave with no burial rites.

‘I only had my tears to console me,’ she told the anti-slavery activists who eventually helped free her.

‘I cried a lot for my daughter and the situation I was in. Instead of understanding, they ordered me to shut up.’

Medieval society: These slaves live in a village separate from their masters. They are not allowed to leave and must tend the land

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About Eeyore

Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

3 Replies to “Secret slaves of Mauritania: Mother and daughter were beaten and raped (and only escaped after their children were murdered)”

  1. Not really much of the ‘I’ word is mentioned, is it? “What is this slavery all about?”, people will ask. The tradition is engrained into the Mauritanian psyche. Why is this?
    Well, because of the millennium-long tradition of Arab supremacy against Black people, that’s why? And what is this tradition of Arab supremacy? Where does this ideology come from? What man (or Prophet) started this tradition?
    Need you ask?
    As I have said….. it’s all about the unmentionable ‘I’ word!

  2. Quote from the CNN link provided in the article above:

    “. . ., the nuances of a person’s skin color and family history determine whether he or she will be free or enslaved.

    That reality permeates every aspect of Mauritanian life — from the dark-skinned boys who serve mint-flavored tea at restaurants to the clothes people wear. A man wearing a powder-blue garment that billows at the arms and has fancy gold embroidery on the chest is almost certainly free and comes from the traditional slave-owning class of White Moors, who are lighter-skinned Arabs. . .”

    “Moors” and “Arabs” . . .slick little weasel wording to avoid connecting Islam and sharia’s endorsement of slavery or Islam’s prophets profits over his human possessions of color whom he identified as abd/abed, abeed is plural for slaves – used as derogatory term, something like the N word in English.

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