Rights group urges end to child marriage in South Sudan

South Sudan school girls from unidentified location in the capital Juba (File photo)

October 29th 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – A right organization has urged South Sudan government to put efforts in ending early child marriage in South Sudan saying around 52 per cent of girls under 18 are subjected to this kind of marriage.

Speaking to the Nyamilepedia’s east African Correspondent on Sunday, Nyagoah William Nyuon Bany, the co-founder and executive director of the child rights organization, the Catwalk to Freedom, said 52 per cent of girls under 18 are subjected to child marriage.

She pointed out that high levels of poverty is to blame for forcing families to marry off their daughters at an early age in an efforts to break the cycle of poverty.

“In South Sudan, fifty-two percent of girls under the age of eighteen are married. High poverty rates and limited economic opportunities drives their families into a race “to sell off” their daughters as young as twelve years old to men 30 – 60 years their senior, in exchange for sizable bride-price or dowries. Once married, South Sudanese girls drop out of school,” she told Nyamilepedia on Sunday.

She estimated that one out of ten girls in South Sudan, is enrolled in secondary school and she’s always at higher risk of maternal mortality, hence making the country susceptible to high levels of maternal mortality rates in the world.

“Only one percent of girls are enrolled in secondary school in S. Sudan), and are at a higher risk of maternal mortality (S. Sudan has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world), and experience high levels of domestic abuse,” she said.

Nyagoah further explained that child marriage is viewed by the communities as a means to prevent girls from engaging in pre-marital activities which is as well on its rise in the world’s youngest nation.

“Many South Sudanese communities see child marriage as a way to protect girls from pre-marital [activities] and unwanted pregnancies. Families also marry off their daughters in exchange for a bride-price or other much-needed resources such as of cattle. South Sudan’s lack of a strong legal framework, along with poor enforcement of existing laws, means that perpetrators are rarely bought to justice,” she added.

Catwalk to Freedom is a pressure and a right group that uses high fashion to tell the stories of South Sudanese girls facing early child marriage.