Young girls sensitized on early child marriage

By Wek Atak Kacjang

More than fifty (50) young girls were trained on how to prevent early child marriage in the country.

On Saturday, the Community Initiative for Sustainable Peace Organization (CISPO) drew up more than 50 woman and girls.

Speaking to Press during the meeting, the Executive Director for CISPO, Francis Woja Wani said early child marriage was common in the society whereby young girls usually fall victims of the practice.

“Yes, we know that many young girls from the school dropout due to early child marriage. Currently CISPO have registered five cases for girls who dropped out over child marriage,” Woja said.

He added that in any society child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that girls are somehow inferior to boys. While gender inequality is a root cause of child marriage in both stable and crisis contexts, often in times of crisis, families see child marriage as a way to cope with greater economic hardship and to protect girls from increased violence.

He added that women and young girls face many hardships and obstacles in their daily lives, including high levels of poverty, low levels of literacy, pronounced gender gaps in education, and the highest maternal mortality rate in the world

In October 2012, government launched survey on early child marriage in different sectors which included, traditional leaders, health care workers, legal and women’s rights experts, teachers, prison officials, and NGOs, UN agencies which underlined severe consequences of this practice, and the risks that women and girls face when they resist or try to leave these marriages. It also examined near total lack of protection for victims of child marriage and the many obstacles they face in attempting to find redress.

South Sudan has taken some actions since it gained autonomy from Sudan in 2005 and independence in 2011, to address women’s rights. These include calls by President Salva Kiir Mayardit for women to participate in all spheres of life and the elimination of harmful traditions that limit their progress, and promises by the government and its international development partners to make gender equality a cornerstone of the country’s development agenda. Some of these steps include actions to tackle child marriage: provisions in the transitional Constitution which came into force at South Sudan’s independence in 2011guaranteeing women and girls the right to consent to marriage; penal code provisions criminalizing as well as kidnapping or abducting a woman to compel her to get married.

The 2008 Child Act provisions protect children under 18 from early and forced marriages and guarantee them the right to non-discrimination, health, education, life, survival and development, an opinion, and protection from torture, degrading treatment, and abuse.

Many girls and women also benefit from an alternative education system that allows pregnant girls and mothers and individuals who have not had access to formal education or who have dropped out, to continue school.

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