Biography of Hadizatou MANINiger > Social : Hadizatou MANI
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Hadizatou Mani is a Human Rights activist from Niger. She fought to free herself from slavery in courts of law. She has been honored with the 2009 International Women of Courage Award.
Hadizatou was born into slavery in Niger, a country which only outlawed slavery in 2003. Her master bought her for $500 when she was only 12 years old. He beat her, forced her to work in the fields, and raped her, making her bear him three children. When slavery was outlawed, he tried to tell the government that she was not a slave, but one of his wives. Hadizatou fought for and won a "Certificate of Liberation" and married a man of her own choosing, but her former master sued her for bigamy and she was forced to spend six months in jail.
She worked with the Niger NGO Timidria and fought her sentence, despite huge pressure not to do anything. She brought a case to the Economic Council of West African States (ECOWAS), which finally found that Niger had failed to protect her rights under the anti-slavery laws and awarded her 10 million CFA (roughly $20,000 USD), as well as her freedom. Thanks to Hadizatou's courage, there is hope for the many citizens of Niger who remain enslaved.
It's just one small reminder of the injustices women and men face all over the world, and our responsibility to be always be aware and active, fighting for better human rights in whatever way we can.
2009 Time 100 (By zeinab salbi, Iraqi American writer and activist).
Facing power with truth, demanding justice and making change possible are things that are easier said than done. It takes courage, resilience and a belief in one's own voice and truth — qualities that Hadizatou Mani, a woman who was sold as a slave at the age of 12, possesses, not out of her wealth or education but out of her simple and most essential belief in human dignity and women's rights to equality and justice.
Mani, now in her mid-20s, was sold into slavery for $500 in 1996. Her home country, Niger, outlawed slavery in 2003, but the practice still continues and manifests itself through the trafficking of mostly women and children — not just in Niger but in many other parts of the world as well.
It is not easy to know you are worth more than what you are being told, to know you have the right to stand up against injustice, to know the world is still beautiful and safe despite its horrors. Not too many of us have the constitution to stand against power as Mani did when she took her country to a West African court for failing to enforce its own laws and denying her right to freedom. "I knew that this was the only way to protect my child from suffering the same fate as myself. Nobody deserves to be enslaved," she said. And she proved it when she won her case in 2008.
Salbi is an author and the founder and CEO of Women for Women International, a global nonprofit assisting female survivors of war.
Last update : 05/21/2010Update this page