Almost 200 years after the establishment of the first international efforts to end the practice of slavery, millions of individuals continue to be illegally bought, sold, and traded as commodities. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are about 12 million men, women, and children currently living in situations of slavery, in which they are owned or controlled through the use of threat or mental or physical abuse. Modern-day slavery affects individuals of all races, ethnicities, and nationalities, and can be found in every country in the world in various forms, including bonded servitude, forced labor, trafficking, and casteism.
Anti-Slavery International, the oldest remaining international human rights organization, has partnered with the Timidria Association, a local Human Rights organization, to end the practice of descent-based slavery in Niger. The practice of caste justifies the exploitation of individuals according to the racial, ethnic, or social group into which they were born. These individuals carry a constant social stigma that leaves them vulnerable to discrimination, exclusion, and physical violence. They are often excluded from decision-making processes, denied access to schools and other social services, and violently prevented from establishing thriving, self-sufficient communities of their own.
Timidria and Anti-Slavery International seek to use Nigerien law and international Human Rights law to protect individuals from enslavement and to ensure that those affected by slavery, discrimination, and violence are able to seek justice through the courts for the violations they have suffered. In 2009, Hadijatou Mani was awarded compensation in a criminal anti-slavery lawsuit against her former master. Although the former master received only a three year suspended sentence, Timidria and Anti-Slavery International believe that Mani v. Niger nevertheless sets an important precedent and will inspire others to assert their rights to freedom and dignity.
In addition to providing support to victims, Anti-Slavery International's Niger initiative also educates local magistrates about human rights law and trains local authorities to identify incidents of slavery. By working together with both legal authorities and victims, Anti-Slavery International hopes to develop more effective monitoring and evaluation strategies that will improve capacity building initiatives in Niger and other regions of the world.
Anti-Slavery International recommends several ways that you can join the fight to end modern-day slavery. Get involved by: