Niger Slavery

Its a sobering thought that slavery is still a widespread practise in certain areas of the world, and no more so than in Niger, where despite the practice being abolished in 1960, prohibited in 1999 and made illegal as recently as 2003, in some areas of the country it is estimated that some 8% of the population are still living as slaves, with some 43,000 living in traditional slavery across the country. Whilst the government is technically against the practise of slavery having introduced a ten year prison sentence or a fine of £1200.00 for offenders such punishments are rarely implemented not least because those in slavery live in remote inaccessible areas and can't be identified.

Further doubt about the government's commitment was highlighted two years after the abolition of slavery when it was planned to release 7000 slaves living around the Mali/Niger border however none turned up with human rights groups accusing the government of intimidating those slaves from attending.

The practice is particularly evident in the north of the country where the Tuareg nomads don't recognise Niger's (or any other country's) laws as being applicable to them. A recent court ruling, however, has established that the Niger government is responsible for actively ensuring slavery is eradicated even amongst the Tuareg rather than just making it illegal.

To fully comprehend what it means to live in slavery, you need to suspend all understanding of human interactions, and see a person as nothing more than a piece of property with no rights, not even the right to keep their children.

This is because when those children are born they also the immediate property of the slave master on birth and can be sold for profit elsewhere or given away as gifts to prevent bonding between mother and child.

Most slaves in Niger are inherited down the generations and work as domestic servants, workers on the land or as herders. Others work in mines or in stone quarries.


Niger Slavery

Niger Slavery

Niger Slavery

Niger Slavery


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Niger Slavery

Whilst many accept their fate due to the caste system and others are physically prevented from escaping, others living in slavery in Niger are told that under Islam, if they obey their master in all things, they will go to heaven, however if they fail to obey their master they will be forsaken by God and spurned by Islam. With no other way to support themselves or gain a knowledge that under Islam, no Muslim may enslave a fellow Muslim, these are powerful messages that serve to perpetuate the slavery cycle.

Another, more modern, form of slavery in Niger is that of human trafficking with Niger being a known centre for the trafficking of women and children into Nigeria, North Africa the Middle east and Europe. This video documentary explores the ongoing issue of slavery in Niger. To find out more about life in Niger check out the two articles above or the 'About Niger' link for a more comprehensive overview of the country today.


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