fair.png
Thursday July 7th, 2022 7:14AM

South Sudan fights child marriage where girls sold for cows

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Some young girls are still auctioned off into marriage for cows in South Sudan — one of the social challenges that activists had hoped to highlight during Pope Francis’ now-postponed visit.

The price of a daughter, determined in negotiations between her father and would-be husband, is typically 50 to 100 cows, each worth up to $1,000. A girl viewed as beautiful, fertile and of high social rank can bring as many as 200 cows. One girl in a well-publicized case a few years ago was auctioned off for 520 cows, plus cars.

“The younger the girl marries, the more the family gets cattle in return,” said Jackline Nasiwa, executive director of the Center of Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice in South Sudan's capital, Juba. “They sell their daughters so that they get something to survive.”

Though South Sudanese law limits marriage to those age 18 and over, it's rarely enforced, particularly in rural areas.

South Sudan’s independence from Sudan in 2011 brought widespread hope for prosperity and peace for the country’s 12 million people, but little of that has materialized.

The new country quickly plunged into five years of civil war that ended with a fragile peace deal in 2018, but deadly intercommunal violence continues, and most people remain trapped in poverty. Climate shocks like flooding, along with rising food prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have deepened widespread hunger.

South Sudan has the world’s fifth-highest prevalence of child marriage, according to the U.N., which says the practice is a violation of human rights, a serious impediment to literacy and a major cause of persistent poverty. About a third of girls in the country are pregnant before turning 15, according to UNICEF.

Against the odds, some South Sudanese girls have fought back.

“I refused,” said 21-year-old Nyanachiek Madit, when her father said she would be married to a man about 50 years old because her family couldn’t afford to send her to school. She was 17 at the time.

“I didn’t accept to get married because I am disabled and my education will be my ‘leg’ later on,” said Nyanachiek, who was born with a congenital disorder. Convinced that schooling would give her a better life, she stood up to her family and dared them to beat or even kill her. Her family didn't force her to marry, but refused to pay her school fees as punishment.

Nyanachiek's plight came to the attention of ChildBride Solidarity, which offers scholarships to girls whose parents abandon them after they oppose early marriage. With the group's assistance, Nyanachiek now studies in South Sudan’s capital.

“I am now happy,” she told The Associated Press.

Early marriage can be deadly. The United Nations Population Fund has said South Sudan is one of the riskiest places to be a mother. Mothers die in 1,150 out of 100,000 live births, one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

“You cannot have a healthy mother, you cannot have a happy mother, if you are marrying off your children and making them mothers,” Chris Oyeyipo with the U.N. Population Fund said during an event marking Mother’s Day in Juba.

The U.N. wants child marriage eliminated worldwide by 2030. But poor families in South Sudan see laws against child marriage as barring them from profiting from their daughters and threatening their very survival.

Only about 10% of South Sudan's girls finish primary school because of factors including conflict and cultural beliefs, according to UNICEF and Plan International.

Experts say some families worry that sending girls to school exposes them to dangers such as sexual assault that could lower their value when it comes time to look for marriage offers. And yet the experts say early marriage exposes girls to domestic abuse, including rape.

Authorities have a long way to go to change such attitudes, said Aya Benjamin, South Sudan’s minister of gender, child and social welfare, who as a girl watched some of her friends be married off.

“It is our collective responsibility to make sure that our girls are allowed to enjoy their childhood,” she told the AP. “We are not discouraging marriage.

"We just say allow girls to be children. Allow them to be themselves. Let them grow up and let them go to school and allow them to decide what they want to be in life, and in that way we can have a healthy society.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP Business
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
South Sudan fights child marriage where girls sold for cows
Some young girls are auctioned off into marriage for cows in South Sudan
3:07AM ( 8 minutes ago )
Royals overcome Ohtani's 2 HRs, 8 RBIs to beat Angels 12-11
Shohei Ohtani hit two three-run homers and drove in a career-high eight runs, but Whit Merrifield led off the 11th inning with an RBI double in the Kansas City Royals’ 12-11 victory over the Los Angeles Angels
2:37AM ( 39 minutes ago )
LEADING OFF: Harper healing, Ohtani on mound, Anderson 8-0
Philadelphia slugger Bryce Harper could return to the lineup Wednesday for the finale of a two-game series at Texas after an infected blister on his left index finger sidelined him for two games last weekend at Washington
2:35AM ( 40 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Jesuit priests killed by gunmen in church in northern Mexico
The Jesuit religious order in Mexico says two of its priests have been killed by gunmen inside a church in a remote mountainous area of northern Mexico
11:53PM ( 3 hours ago )
Former Colombian rebel leaders recognize role in kidnappings
A group of former leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, say the guerrilla organization was responsible for war crimes, including the kidnapping of thousands of civilians for ransom and also holding politicians as hostages for several years in the hopes of exchanging them for imprisoned rebels
11:38PM ( 3 hours ago )
'Everything is on fire': Ukraine region weathers bombardment
Russian attacks are laying down a curtain of fire across areas of eastern Ukraine where pockets of resistance are denying Moscow full military control of the region
10:11PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP World News
Labor shortage compounds federal firefighters' staffing woes
Firefighter groups are applauding steps taken by the Biden administration this week to temporarily raise wages for the men and women on the front lines of the nation’s largest wildfires
1:02AM ( 2 hours ago )
Asian shares mostly lower despite Wall St rally; eyes on Fed
Asian shares are mostly lower as markets shrug off a Wall Street rally and await the congressional testimony of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell
12:27AM ( 2 hours ago )
Aces and Sky clinch spots in Commissioner's Cup title game
Las Vegas and Chicago will meet in the second annual Commissioner’s Cup championship game next month
12:04AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
Royals overcome Ohtani's 2 HRs, 8 RBIs to beat Angels 12-11
Shohei Ohtani hit two three-run homers and drove in a career-high eight runs, but Whit Merrifield led off the 11th inning with an RBI double in the Kansas City Royals’ 12-11 victory over the Los Angeles Angels
2:37AM ( 39 minutes ago )
LEADING OFF: Harper healing, Ohtani on mound, Anderson 8-0
Philadelphia slugger Bryce Harper could return to the lineup Wednesday for the finale of a two-game series at Texas after an infected blister on his left index finger sidelined him for two games last weekend at Washington
2:35AM ( 41 minutes ago )
Europe wildfire risk heightened by early heat waves, drought
Extended drought conditions in several Mediterranean countries, a heat wave last week that reached northern Germany and high fuel costs for aircraft needed to fight wildfires have heightened concerns across Europe this summer
2:32AM ( 43 minutes ago )
Title IX: Scurry's career, law forever linked at Smithsonian
Brianna Scurry's soccer jersey from the 1999 Women's World Cup is at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture
2:28AM ( 47 minutes ago )
To avoid US extradition, Megaupload pair plead guilty in NZ
Two men have pleaded guilty in New Zealand to their involvement in running the once wildly popular pirating website Megaupload
2:24AM ( 52 minutes ago )