Ten Facts about Niger’s “Fifth Wives” or WAHAYU

  • A wahaya (plural: wahayu) or “fifth wife” is a Nigerien girl or woman born into a slave caste and trafficked into domestic or sexual servitude.
  • A wahaya can be sold to a wealthy or powerful man for as little as $400 US (200,000 CFA).
  • The practice of “fifth wives” is most prevalent in Niger’s Tahoua region. Wahayu are also trafficked across the border, to northern Nigeria.
  • Eighty-three percent of the wahayu interviewed by Anti-Slavery International and Timidria researchers, for their joint report, had been sold into the practice before age 15—43 percent were sold between ages nine and 11, while 40 percent were sold between ages 12 and 14.
  • Another term used for a wahaya is sa daka, which translates to “put in the bedroom,” but in the context of a wahaya, can be interpreted as “shove her in the bedroom!” (with the intention of using her for sexual gratification).
  • Slavery was abolished in Niger in 1960, and national legislation was passed in 2003 to make it a criminal offense.
  • Niger has ratified a number of international conventions that the wahaya practice violates, including the International Labor Organization’s Minimum Age Convention (C138) and Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention (C182); the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography; and the U.N. Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons.
  •  The first successful prosecution under Niger’s 2003 anti-slavery law was won by Hadijatou Mani, who became a wahaya at age 12, was forced to perform unpaid agricultural and domestic work, and endured regular beatings and rape.
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10 Facts about Child Labor in Lake Volta’s Fishing Industry:

  • In Ghana, one in six children aged 6 to 14 are involved in child labor; 2.3 percent of them work in fishing.
  • NGOs estimate that 4,000 to 10,000 children are trafficked and enslaved on Lake Volta at any time.
  • Persistent poverty greatly contributes to the issue of child labor in the Lake Volta fishing industry. Many families in Ghana are unable to afford the fees for school uniforms and books, and in many communities learning a trade is considered a viable alternative to schooling.
  • Children as young as four years old are trafficked to work as bonded laborers in Ghana’s fishing industry.
  • Parents who give their children to traffickers often believe that, in exchange for the small sum of money they receive, the child will have the opportunity to learn a trade.
  • The tasks children are involved in include paddling boats, hauling nets, diving underwater to untangle nets, or working as domestic laborers in the homes of fishermen.
  • Children work long hours for no pay; do not attend school; and are often malnourished, sleep deprived, and treated abusively.
  • Drowning and contracting water-borne diseases, like bilharzia (schistosomiasis) and guinea worm (dracunculiasis), are some of the hazards of this form of child labor.
  • The work violates Ghana’s own laws regulating child labor and education. It also violates standards set by the International Labor Organization’s Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention (C182) and Minimum Age Convention (C138), as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child—all which Ghana has ratified.
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