A selection of Nigerien newspapers

Niger Human Rights

Independence Day: August 3, 1960

Head of state: Mahamadou Issoufou

Head of government: Brigi Rafini

Political system: democratic multi-party system

Political Transformation (BTI): Rank 57 of 137 (2020)

Corruption Index (CPI): Rank 120 of 180 (2019)

Ibrahim Index of African Governance: Rank 28 of 54 (2020)

Human rights, slavery, child marriage, Wahaya, FGM, gender diversity

The human rights are in Niger total a delicate subject.

Slavery is a hot topic in Niger. The NGO Timidria is intensely committed to the liberation of slaves in Niger and has successfully made slavery in Niger an issue. As a result, slavery was defined in criminal law and made a criminal offense in 2003. Over 200 people gained their freedom as a result of the efforts of Timidria. However, in the minds of some people, slavery is not yet eliminated, rather it is viewed as “given by nature”. An almost one-hour interview on the subject of slavery in Haussa shows that the discussions are also taking place in Niger. The English organization Anti-Slavery International (ASI) gave the Nigerian organization Timidria its Anti-Slavery Award in 2004. A congress on slavery was held in Niger in 2015.

According to ehistorylib, ANDDH, the Nigerien human rights organization, is now a leading organization of the Nigerien civil society and has regional offices in the 8 regions of Niger and member groups in over 60 municipalities. The most important goal of ANDDH is the establishment of a constitutional state. The lawyers and para-lawyers in these offices inform and support their people in getting to know and claiming their rights. The ANDDH has a library in Niamey that is open to anyone interested. ANDDH takes a stand on the human rights situation through press releases and reports.

Even if the situation of slavery in Niger was brought to the public through Timidria and ANDDH and is therefore known not only abroad but also inland, the situation has not yet changed significantly. Information from 2005 on the state of slavery is still current today. Estimates of the number of people living as slaves in Niger vary between 40,000 and 870,000. The range of relationships of dependency is very broad: they are people who have been living in traditional relationships for generations as “historical” slaves, but also the most diverse “modern” systems of slavery or slavery.Forced labor: children from poor country house holdings who are given to city families to do the household chores and also impoverished former animal keepers who hire themselves out as shepherds for large animal owners (politicians or traders) and have to live under slave-like conditions People who are forced to pursue the sex trade; various forms of child slavery and much more.

Often young girls are forcibly married as wahaya (‘fifth’ wife) – and there are often several in a household – although de jure (state and Islamic) only four wives are allowed. These wahayas do not have the rights of regular women and the transition to slavery is gradual; It is not uncommon for the girls to wear heavy anklets that identify them as slaves.

Forced marriage, often child marriage (e.g. for reasons of poverty) or arranged marriage – partly for traditional reasons – but increasingly for the reasons mentioned above, are situations which lead the youngest girls, who are still children themselves, into sexual exploitation. If a marriage is arranged for traditional reasons, the young girl should initially live with the mother-in-law and only meet her spouse as a teenager. Niger is the country with the highest rate the marriage of minors. 28% of the girls are married before the age of 15 and 76% before the age of 18. Approx. 10% of girls up to the age of 15 have already given birth to a child; in the level up to 18 years it is almost 50%. This problem exists in the entire West African region, but religious representatives also do not advocate marriage before the age of 16.

Female circumcision, FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), is also common in Niger, but according to Terres des Femmes only about 10% of women are circumcised; Fortunately, only 2% of girls are now circumcised, as more and more parents (women and especially men) are speaking out against it. There are all three forms of mutilation performed by traditional circumcisers.

The work of women’s rights activist and judge Mariama Cissé made this criminal offense in 2003 causes. Among other things, Cissé advocates gender equality, the position of “matan kuli” (women included) and against the forced marriage of underage girls and genital mutilation (reference is also made to ‘Society and culture: gender relations’).

In the gender-diversity (gender diversity) there are no laws against Niger LGBTQI * (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer, and Inter * (various) identities and sexualities). This does not mean that a free acting out is tolerated any “miscellaneous” identity and sexuality.

A completely different issue of human rights violations has only recently come to light: more and more mass graves of murdered civilians are being found. It is considered possible that the military may have killed these people. On the one hand, this weakens the army’s good reputation among the population; on the other hand, the soldiers are overwhelmed by the increasing terrorism.

A selection of Nigerien newspapers