Monday, March 07, 2005

Niger begins enforcement of ban on slavery

Who says all the news is bad?

Niger has made its first effort to publicize and enforce an anti-slavery law that was passed in May of 2004. Last Saterday 7,000 people were freed for the first time in their lives.

The chief of the In Antes region will free slaves in the area under his control. 95% of the people of In Antes are owned and controlled by the other 5%.

In Niger, children are born into an established slave class. Out of a population of some 11 million, at least 43,000 people live as slaves.

Unfortunately, freedom won't be a panacea for Niger's slaves. With vast stretches of the Sahara desert within its borders, Niger is one of the world's poorest countries. Life expectancy is only 42 years. Over 60% of the population lives in poverty.

Still, Romana Cacchioli of Anti-Slavery International says that the overwhelming response of the freed slaves was hopeful.


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