Thursday, March 26, 2020

The fifth wife

In Niger where traditional forms of slavery still exist. One of them is a practice called "fifth wife," which means that for wealthy men, in addition to four wives permitted by Islam, they take on an additional wife — fifth wives — who are essentially treated as slaves and they just serve their masters, in both domestic and sexual ways.

We had a woman called Hadijatou Mani who ran away from this kind of situation and built her life in freedom and married another man she freely chose. But she was thrown in jail after her former master denounced her as breaching the rules of what he called marriage.
We took that case on and we took that to an international court and we won that case. She was amazingly brave to testify against her former master and against her own government for failing to protect her from slavery.
She won that case and then 10 years later her marriage not only was finally cancelled, but the whole practice was ruled unlawful, so her own personal fight ended in actually criminalizing the practice that has persisted in the country for hundreds of years. And hundreds of women and girls will be protected from that form of slavery from now on.

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