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Wednesday, 4 September, 2002, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK
Niger 'slave' flees castration
Niger's main districts

A man has escaped to the capital Niamey from northern Niger, saying his master was about to castrate him.

This has brought issue of slavery in Niger under the spotlight again in a very dramatic way.

Tuareg tribesman
Niger's Tuaregs still keep slaves
According to statistics provided by a local human rights group, 20,000 people are still living under conditions of slavery in the Niger - some of them suffering from extreme forms of torture.

A spokesman for the Timidria organisation, Igalss Weiller, told journalists that the man in question, a Mr Mohamet, had escaped from the village of Abalak, in the region of Tahoua, around 800 kilometres from Niamey.

He had been sentenced to castration by his new master, a local Tuareg chief.

Disobedience

Talking about his ordeal, Mr Mohamet explained that he was being whipped everyday because he was suspected of wanting to rebel against his master.

He said he had recently been sold to a new owner, known for his cruelty towards his slaves. His new master accused him of rebellion and disobedience.

Mr Mohamet said if he had not escaped, he would have been castrated this week.

Nomads in Niger desert
Slavery is most common in remote desert areas

His master tried to control his slaves by castrating them or using amputation.

Against the background of reported violations of human rights by traditional Tuareg and Fulani traditional rulers in some parts of the country, Timidria and the American aid organisation USAid, have launched a publicity campaign about slavery in Niger's rural areas.

The practise is most common in the regions of Acadez and Zinder. But old customs are hard to change.

Timidria says that the lack of clear provisions dealing with slavery in Niger's penal code and constitution is to blame for the extent of the problem.

The government says that it will soon draft a law clarifying the enslavement of a person as a criminal offence.

See also:

09 Aug 02 | Africa
06 Aug 02 | Africa
04 Aug 02 | Africa
07 Dec 01 | Africa
06 Jul 02 | Country profiles
25 Feb 02 | Africa
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