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High bride price, factor for increased GBV

By SasukTaban

The high cost of dowry or bride price is a major factor contributing to gender based violence (GBV) and communal disputes, activist has said.

In an interview with the Juba Monitor yesterday, Philip Malaak Chol, the Executive Director of Grand Debaters Association, said when dowry is highly priced, husbands perceive their wives as their property and tend to mistreat them.

“When dowry is charged highly, many young girls are forced into early marriage and their opportunity for furthering their studies ceases,” Malaak said.

Mr. Malaak said many communities now regard girls as sources of wealth and they tend to force them (girls) to marry old men who have wealth rather than the man the girl is in love with.

He added that due to this phenomenon, once the girls are married to the old men, they are mistreated and they opt to run away, and when they return back to their families, they are chased and asked to return to their husbands. He said this veracity often forces many to terminate their life as a way of escaping the problems they face.

“Dowry is part of the culture of many communities, but how positively is it helping the community?” he asked. Malaak said due to the high cost of bride price, many people in the community opt to engage in cattle raiding for them to be able to pay the bride price.

“Many communities are now engaging in cattle raiding to enable them pay bride price in the form of cattle for their sons.  For example the situation between the Dinka Bor and the Murle in Jonglei and Pibor,” he said.

Malaak proceeded to urge South Sudanese to exert more efforts to put an end to gender-based violence and forced marriages. “We need a society free from Gender-Based Violence (GBV). Let’s put an end to forced and early child marriages and prioritise their education,” he urged

Mr. Malaak said his organization in partnership with the United Nations Women is conducting awareness campaigns in the Greater Regions of; Bahr El- Ghazal, Upper Nile and Equatoria.

He said so far, they have conducted the campaigns in Jonglei and Rumbek and are scheduled to conduct an awareness campaign in Yambio town in western part of the country very soon

Malaak said the awareness campaign focuses on the ‘Culture of Dowry in South Sudan and its implications on the Gender-Based Violence’ through the socialization meetings, under-the-tree community dialogues on Gender-Based Violence, preventions and response, public lectures and debates as well as Radio talk shows.

According to Malaak, the approach of the campaign is informed by the painful realization that girls, boys, young women and men in South Sudan face multiple protection risks, exclusions and deprivations, which he said threaten their survival, learning and development.

“The underlying drivers of these risks, include, but are not limited to armed and inter-communal conflicts, series of humanitarian crisis, high levels of poverty, discriminatory cultural practices and beliefs as well as insufficient public spending in essential public services such as health, education, water and sanitation,” Malaak said.

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