Former slave wins historic case against Niger government

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A former slave who took the government of Niger to court for failing to enforce its own anti-slavery laws won her case on Monday in what campaigners said was an historic judgement.

Hadijatou Mani, 24, was born to a mother who was herself a slave and thus immediately became the property of her mother's master, a practice still widespread in the West African nation, according to Anti-Slavery International.

Her "owner" then sold her on to another slave master for £250 when she was 12 years old, when she started her life as an unpaid worker in the man's house and fields.
She was also regularly beaten and sexually abused and bore the man, El Hadj Soulemayne Naroua, three children, one of whom died.

She was freed in 2005, and went on to marry another man, but was at one point jailed for bigamy by Niger's court system. Her former master argued at the time that, despite being freed, she was still automatically his wife and he started court proceedings against her for bigamy. She lost her appeal and served two months of a six month prison sentence.

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