In Mauritania , the last country to abolish slavery (in 1981),  it is estimated that up to 600,000 men, women and children, or 20% of the population, are enslaved with many used as bonded labour .    Slavery in Mauritania was criminalized in August 2007.  (although slavery as a practice was legally banned in 1981, it was not a crime to own a slave until 2007).  Although many slaves have escaped or have been freed since 2007, as of 2012 [update] , only one slave-owner had been sentenced to serve time in prison. 
In this brief passage, Jacobs takes us into the world of one enslaved family. You might begin the discussion by encouraging students to describe the scene in their own words. This exercise will require them to focus closely on the details of the episode. As a child Jacobs lived in Edenton, North Carolina, in the eastern, highly agricultural part of the state. This incident likely took place in the yard between the owner’s home and where the slaves lived, a space that would have been occupied by both owner and owned. Ask students to think about what the setting might have been.