Haley Behre:

Mauritania could be on the brink of change- if we allow them to be. Yes, I believe slavery is despicable and I think we should condemn them for practicing it, but we should also educate them on WHY slavery is wrong. It is not enough to impose views on others without showing them what they mean.

For instance, a Mauritanian man who was once a slave owner is now an abolitionist. He came to it on his own terms after reading and learning about it. In order to change Mauritania as a whole, a similar process has to occur. Mauritania has to be susceptible to change and criticism, but once they are willing to be held accountable for these gross human rights violations, they can begin to turn over a new leaf and create a society free from slavery. A few things need to happen, I believe, for this to happen.

1) Mauritania needs to allow journalists to enter the country to document the forms of slavery and what exactly is happening in the country. Exposing the truth and the brutality of crimes is always a good way to begin changing them because it will insight international relief effort and create awareness about the problem.

2) Mauritanian government needs to be willing to prosecute slave owners under their 2007 law. By having this law and not implementing it, slave owners think that their actions are acceptable. The government needs to show slave owners that slavery is not acceptable and is punishable.

3) Mauritanian government needs to be willing to implement programs and systems that can will enable current slaves to begin a life as free people. It is not enough to emancipate slaves- as history has shown us. A system needs to be put in place that allows newly freed people to begin a life outside of slavery. If no such system is put in place, they will probably return to their slave masters (as newly freed people) and work for them. This is because they are not given any other options, like learning a new skill, education or a way to acquire money. This happened in America when the 13th Amendment was created. Newly freed slaves often returned to their slave masters as freed men to work because they did not know what else to do or where to turn.

4) NGOs, non-profits and international relief organizations have to come into Mauritania and begin to educate the people on why slavery is wrong. This can also happen from the inside, if the government is willing to create similar programs. By showing people why slavery is wrong, instead of forcing views on them, the people will be able to see and understand for themselves why this practice has been condemned internationally. Forcing a belief on another will only create hostility and hinder efforts.

Originally posted on The CNN Freedom Project: Ending Modern-Day Slavery:

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) — A quick glance at slavery stats makes the situation in Mauritania seem fairly hopeless: The West African nation was last in the world to abolish slavery; an estimated 10% to 20% of people live in some form of slavery today; and, while the government made slavery a crime in 2007, only one slave owner has been successfully prosecuted.

But ask Gulnara Shahinian, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, about her recent visits to the country and you see a picture that’s hidden beneath those shocking statistics.

Shahinian says Mauritania could be nearing a turning point. It’s clear what needs to be done to eradicate slavery in Mauritania, and government leaders finally are considering making some of the right decisions, she said.

“This country has opened its door” to discuss slavery with the UN, she said. “Why don’t…

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About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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