West African court rules Niger failed by allowing slavery
A West African court convicted the state of Niger on Monday on counts of failing to protect a 12-year-old girl from being sold into slavery, reported The Washington Post. Hadijatou Mani, now 24, was sold into slavery in 1996 for around $500. For over a decade she was forced to do unpaid housework and labor and was repeatedly raped by her owner.
Slavery is outlawed in Africa, but it still exists in pockets of the country including parts of Niger, Mali, Mauritania in areas of conflict such as northern Uganda, reported The New York Times.
The ruling ordered the government to pay Mani about $19,000 in damages, which she says she will use to buy a home and fund an education for her three children.
Mani was freed by her owner, Souleymane Narouna, in 2005, but had trouble when she tried to get married because Narouna claimed she was married to him. When Mani married anyway, she was charged for bigamy and sentenced to six months in jail. She was released after serving two months.
Activists hope that this ruling will help call attention to the hidden slavery issue in Africa and help free the suspected 43,000 still enslaved today in Niger alone.