The pandemic threatens vulnerable families.

Fatou, 14 years old,
a former domestic servant

Hoping to provide Fatou with opportunities for the future, her parents sent her to work for a Mauritanian family as a domestic servant. However, the situation quickly deteriorated. Fatou’s employers began abusing and beating her.

Exploited as a domestic servant

Fatou is 14. Her parents are extremely poor. They sent their daughter to a distant acquaintance, living in neighbouring Mauritania, who had promised to employ her as a domestic servant.  

Like many children sent abroad, Fatou spent her time in Mauritania performing domestic tasks and providing various services, without pay. The family she worked for abused her, beating her daily. One day, a neighbour saw her crying and took her to the police department for minors. The police requested support from one of Tdh’s social workers, who listened to Fatou’s story. The social worker opened an enquiry into the exploitation and abuse experienced by Fatou over the previous nine months.

Working with the police, Tdh searched for Fatou’s family in Senegal. The social worker called her parents, who put her in contact with an uncle in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania. He was willing to take Fatou in, and she agreed to live with him.

Fatou’s former employers were required by law to take part in a mediation. They eventually paid their debt, compensating Fatou for the time she worked for them. She now lives with her uncle, and receives weekly visits from Tdh’s social worker. One day, she would like to go back to Senegal. However, for now, she is happy to stay in Mauritania, where she has begun a cooking apprenticeship.

Not her real name