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The inhospitable desert north has some of the country’s highest rates of extreme poverty.

“It’s been going on since the 1990s, but recently it’s been getting a lot worse," AFETEN’s regional coordinator Moutari Mamane told IRIN.

No-one is correct: there simply are different forms of marriage.

Early and forced marriage in Niger has largely been confined to rural areas in the south, but according to the local non-profit Action Against The Use of Child Workers (AFETEN), families in the north are “selling” their daughters to men from neighbouring countries to lift themselves out of urban poverty.

CHINYERE'S BLOG I went to a mini-conference the other day in New York about gender inequality.

Then during a 30-minute lunch recess, some of the women gathered together and an argument erupted as to whether African men are better husbands than their African-American counterparts.

Let me tell you something, I've been married for 15 years, I am a medical doctor and so is my husband. I do this because that's how my mother brought me up." Then I chimed in and said, "I take great offense at you claiming my husband treats me like a maid. How many African households have you ever visited to see how we interact with our husbands in the house?

The fact that I come home and make dinner for the family doesn't mean that I am a maid. We have two children, and yes, I cook and clean but that doesn't make me a maid. For reasons I don't want to say I will never marry an African-American man." Well, with that outburst, you would think that a lightning struck us as a quiet descended on us. But it was the African-American lady who broke the ice.

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