Mauritania - Social development





The National Social Security Fund administers family allowances, industrial accident benefits, insurance against occupational diseases, and old age pensions. Pensions are paid for by 1% contributions from employees and 2% contributions from employers. Employers either provide medical benefits to workers on their own or through a joint program for companies with fewer than 750 employees. The program covers employed persons and students enrolled in trade schools, but excludes agricultural workers and subsistence farmers.

Opportunities for Mauritanian women are severely limited by social and cultural factors. Although they have the right to vote, women face considerable legal discrimination. According to Shari'a law, the testimony in court of two women equals that of one man. Polygyny exists, and female genital mutilation is widely practiced among ethnic groups. The law mandates equal pay for equal work, and in the public sector, this law is respected and applied. Most young girls undergo female genital mutilation by the age of six months, although the incidence is decreasing among the urban population. Education is not compulsory, and dire financial circumstances force many children to work. Laws prohibiting child labor are rarely enforced.

Slavery was abolished many times in Mauritania, the most recent law having been passed in 1980. Despite this, there are still slaves in Mauritania in the rural areas of the east. The slaves have no property or marriage rights, and parents have no rights over their children. Slavery is based on race, with the lighter-skinned Moors from the north enslaving darker-skinned farmers in the south.

Some human rights abuses are reported including the use of excessive force to disperse demonstrators and inadequate prison conditions. Nongovernmental organizations are generally allowed to operate freely, but some local human rights organizations, such as the Mauritanian Association for Human Rights, have been denied legal recognition.

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