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treating kids unfairly



I am very concerned for my niece. My niece is 16 and is my brother's daughter from his first marriage. My brother is now remarried to a woman with an 18 year old daughter. My brother's stepdaughter lives with him and his wife, and my niece lives with her mom and visits her dad every other weekend. My brother and his wife have been married for 3 years now and I have noticed how they treat my niece very unfairly. I am very close to my niece. She calls me and e-mails me. She has called me crying before because of what has gone on at her dad's house.
Her stepmom(my new sister-in-law) completely favors her daughter. The stepmom will not put out any pictures of my niece in her home, but puts out tons of her daughter. She spends so much money on her daughter, yet I hear her complain when my brother spends money on my niece. My SIL just bought her daughter a brand new laptop computer, whereas my brother never spends that much money on his daughter. He always has to ask his wife if he can buy his daughter something. I always send my niece really nice X-Mas presents so she knows that at least someone in her dad's family cares about her. The stepmom has absolutely no rules for her 18 year old and never has. Her daughter goes out to bars all hours of the night and parties with her friends. Her daughter has no curfew and never has. Her daughter goes out with guys twice her age, and the stepmom doesn't think a thing about it. I know if my niece did things like her stepsister does my brother would have a fit. However when my niece goes over to her dad's she isn't allowed to have friends over. She is supposed to spend the entire weekend with my brother and his wife and not do anything socially with friends. My niece has told me that she feels like she is being punished by going over to her dad's cause she's not allowed to have fun like her stepsister is.
My brother will get my niece to do small chores like help with dinner or set the table. My niece doesn't have a problem with doing that, but has noticed that her dad and stepmom never make her stepsister do these things. Reasoning behind it is that her stepsister had a hard life with her biological father abandoning her so they don't make her lift a finger. My niece has told me that she hates her stepsister. Her stepsister will hardly even talk to my niece when she visits. She's too busy with her friends, whereas my niece is stuck at home.
I think a lot of my niece's negative feelings towards her stepsister have to do with how my brother and his wife treat the kids so differently. My niece sees that her stepsister can get away with anything and doesn't have to do a single thing, whereas she can't. It definitely isn't fair. I really feel for her.