“Haratin: Born to Serve” is a photo essay of portraits of former slaves in Mauritania by Seif Kousmate. Although slavery was officially abolished by the Mauritanian state in 1981, established as an offense in 2007, and made a crime against humanity in 2012, traditional slavery and racial discrimination are still commonplace in Mauritania. UN human rights experts and both international and local NGOs continue to express serious concerns about deeply entrenched discriminatory practices, particularly against members of the Haratins and Afro-Mauritanian communities. This includes severe underrepresentation in leadership positions and obstacles to civil registration, which then limits their ability to attend school, vote, and access to other essential services. The current government—majority Arab-Berber—denies any presence of slavery or discrimination on its territory. Local NGOs denounce manipulation by the political authorities and confirm the presence of 10-20% of slaves within the population. There is no official data on this practice, but according to estimates by the Global slavery index 2016, as many as 43,000 people or about 1 % of the total Mauritanian population was affected by this situation.
For more information, visit Seif Kousmate’s website here.