National News

FATHERS, Blamed over early marriages

By Kitab A Unango

As the world struggles to end child marriage by 2030, fathers in South Sudan have been blamed for perpetuating the vice.

Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Nadia Arop Dudi yesterday said mothers of young girls do not have a strong say when it comes to decision on marriage, but fathers do.

“Fathers of young girls are the ones behind early marriages not mothers,” Nadia stated.

She spoke during a workshop organized by her ministry together with Crown the Woman Organization with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNPA).

The workshop aimed at creating awareness on how toend child marriages in South Sudan.

It was attended by the African Union Youth Envoy, Aya Chebbi, UNFPA Acting Deputy Representative, Dr. Kidane Abraha as well as representatives of civil society organizations, youth and students.

Minister said much should be done to change the mindset of fathers who view their daughters as source of incomes, especially among rural communities.

Aya Chebbi, the African Union Youth Envoy pointed out that putting an end to early marriage in Africa required empowerment of women to have access to education, and to become economically independent, as well as have freedom of choice in regards to whom they want to marry.

She said the country’s better future depends on ending all forms of violence against women and young girls.

“Child marriage will not end until women and young girls are empowered to have access to education, empowered to be economically independent and have freedom of choice of their partners,” Aya emphasized.

Dr. Kidane Abraha of UNFPA said in developing countryies like South Sudan, every pregnant woman believes she will die during child birth due to child marriage and poor access to healthcare.

He added that the vice, “child marriage” has to stop for it remains devastating on women’s health in South Sudan.

“Everyday women die while giving birth and should never happen,” Abraha said.

Child marriage is one of the concerns in the country that has frustrated government’s and partners’ efforts to reduce mother and child mortality.

UNFPA has been in the forefront since in ensuring the practice ends in South Sudan and that has given hope among producing age women in some parts of the country.

However the Executive Director of Crown the Woman, Ms Riya William said many women and young girls especially in rural areas are ignorant of their rights and child marriage practices.

“Young girls are highly vulnerable to early marriage in South Sudan. I urge fathers to stop marrying off their daughters at young age,” Riya stated.

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