In 2016, the estimates of modern slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for approximately 13.6 percent of the world's total enslaved population. As evident from surveys conducted in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Ethiopia by Walk Free Foundation, slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa takes the form of forced labour and forced marriage. In Nigeria, survey results suggest that forced labour is predominantly within the domestic sector, although it was impossible to survey in three regions due to high conflict. In Nigeria and Niger, the ‘Wahaya’ practice continues to exist in which women and children are sold into sexual and domestic slavery as unofficial ‘fifth wives’. They are known as such because they are in addition to the four wives legally permitted in Niger and Nigeria.
Tikirit Amoudar, 45 years old, describes how she was sold at aged 10 and remained as a ‘wahaya’ for 15 years.
My master, a man called Amola Zono, lived in his family village of Toudoun Adaraoua. He was Hausa. I was his only wahaya and my clothes set me apart from his four legal wives. They dressed decently, while my clothes barely covered me. He used to come to me at night in secret for sex. My workload was heavy: fetching water for all the family; fetching water for livestock (over 100 cattle); hulling and pounding grain (millet and sorghum) for food and foodstuffs; providing firewood for the family; large preparations – the day before and on the days of community gatherings in the master’s fields during the rainy season (for 30 to 40 people); washing up; preparing the mistresses’ and the master’s beds; looking after the children and keeping the courtyard clean – these were my tasks until my master’s death.
As told to Anti-Slavery International