Former Sex Slave Sues Government of Niger for Failing to Protect Her

Monday, April 07, 2008

DAKAR, Senegal — A woman who claims she was held as a domestic servant and sexual slave for 10 years is suing Niger’s government for failing to implement its own laws banning slavery in an unprecedented legal action.

Twenty-four-year-old Hadijatou Mani’s case began Monday in the capital, Niamey. It is being heard by a regional court run by the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States because Hadijatou “believes she cannot get fair redress at any national court in Niger,” Romana Cacchioli, Africa coordinator of Anti-Slavery International, told The Associated Press by telephone.

Comment from Niger’s government was not immediately available.

Hadijatou is also demanding monetary compensation equivalent to about $100,000, said one of her lawyers, Ibrahima Kane of the International Center for Legal Protection of Human Rights.

“Despite the criminalization of slavery in 2003, the government of Niger is accused of not only failing to protect Hadijatou Mani from the practice of slavery, but also continuing to legitimize this practice through its customary law, which is discriminatory toward women and in direct conflict with its own criminal code and constitution,” Anti-Slavery International said in a statement.



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