Child marriage Facebook auction reminiscent of slave markets

Plan International is calling on the South Sudanese government to investigate a Facebook auction which led to the child marriage of a 17-year-old girl.

According to UNICEF, 34% of girls in South Sudan marry before the age of 18.
According to UNICEF, 34% of girls in South Sudan marry before the age of 18.

An auction has been held on Facebook to facilitate the child marriage of a 17-year-old girl in South Sudan.

The girl’s father reportedly received 500 cows, 3 cars and $10,000 in exchange for his daughter, who was married off to the winning bidder at a ceremony on 3 November in the country’s Eastern Lakes State. 

Five men participated in the auction, some of whom are reportedly high-ranking government officials.

BARBARIC USE OF TECHNOLOGY

Commenting on the news, George Otim, Country Director of Plan International South Sudan, said:

“This barbaric use of technology is reminiscent of latter-day slave markets. That a girl could be sold for marriage on the world’s biggest social networking site in this day and age is beyond belief.

“While it is common for dowries to be used in marriages in South Sudanese culture, nothing can excuse the way this girl – who is still a child – has been treated as nothing more than an object, sold off to the bidder prepared to offer the most money and goods.

“Plan International is calling on the South Sudanese government to investigate this matter and suspend any officials who took part in the bidding. We would encourage any girls who find themselves in similar situations of forced and early marriages to report these to the police.

EFFECTS OF CHILD MARRIAGE

“Child marriage is a serious violation of human rights and a form of violence against girls. It can have profound consequences on a child’s survival, health, education, development and well-being and is often carried out against their will and best interests. Girls who marry are at a high risk of early childbearing, maternal mortality and are also often socially isolated – cut off from family and friends and other sources of support.

“Article 15 of the Republic of South Sudan transitional constitution states that any person of marriageable age has the right to form a family, and Article 17 guarantees women and girls the right to consent to marriage. Article 17 also defines a child as anyone under the age of 18, and further states that the best interests of the child will be protected in all matters related to his or her life, and that they should not be subjected to exploitative practices or abuse. We as Plan International call for the full and effective enforcement of these laws.”