A 20-year-old girl killed for refusing to marry
By Opio Jackson
A 20-year-old girl has been killed in Eastern Lakes state for refusing to marry a man her family had selected for her, according to a government official in Yirol.
According to the Amnesty International, the inhumane consequence of this forced marriage that resulted in girl’s death only highlights the need for an urgent end to this practice which is widespread in South Sudan.
“Forcing someone to marry against their will is a clear violation of South Sudan’s own constitution as well as its international human rights obligations,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and Great Lakes Region.
Last week authorities in neighboring Western Lakes state have raised concern over rampant child marriage in the area.
Sebit John Magok, Minister of Gender, Social Welfare said the whole of the greater Lakes state was experiencing rampant early marriages.
He urged parents and traditional leaders to help the government in fighting the vices.
“Early marriage is one of the major issues affecting health and education of young girls in this community,” Magok said.
However, the minister said the government has set out a strong strategic plan to end early marriage by the year 2030.
“The state ministry of gender, social welfare and rural development is implementing this strategic plan of 2017/2030 in partnership with the ministries of education and health,” Magok stressed.
He cited poverty as one of the major causes of early marriage in the community.
“Forced marriage and killing are not only illegal, but also inhumane. We call on the government to immediately hold the responsible individuals to account,” said Amnesty.
Many families in the country forcibly marry off their daughters for dowry, including girls under the age of 18. In November 2018, a girl aged between 16 and 17 was forcibly married after a controversial auction on Facebook. According to a 2017 UNICEF study, 52% of South Sudanese girls are married by the time they are 18.
“The patriarchal practice of forcing young girls and women to marry is a cruel manifestation of the large inequality between men and women in South Sudan. Rather than being resourceful and inspirational leaders and members of society, women and girls are treated as communal commodities,” said Joan Nyanyuki.
Amnesty International has called on the government to take urgent steps to end early, forced and child marriage and to ensure that individuals perpetrating this heinous form of gender-based violence and violating the country’s laws are brought to book. Women and girls’ rights must be protected.