By Matia Samuel Timatio
As South Sudan is one of the countries with deeply rooted cultural practices and social norms linked to gender. Child marriage and early pregnancy is fuelled by poverty. Girls are married off early for the family to collect dowry. Low levels of education and lack of knowledge about the harm caused by early marriage and it’s clear that marriage is not for children. It harms children, especially girls.
Sarah Musa Wani, a young lady from Future Centre For Modern Science and Technology in Juba is criticizing and calling on girls to prioritize their studies and avoid early sex, “I know we girls go through a lot in order to pursue education and some of us don’t have parents to sponsor us but I’m telling you my sisters never to give up in life”. Adding that “I myself don’t have any mother or father but I did all kind of work just to pay my school fees up to when I was able to sit for my senior four and now I’m doing my university, I made sure no man take an advantage of me”.
Sarah attributed the early girl child marriage to poverty and lack of parental care. “The many reasons as to why girls fall in love with men is that they lack basic needs and there is no one to provide for them, so, when a man comes around to deceive with little money then she falls for him thinking that he might take good care of her but at the end, he only impregnates her and later dump her” said Sarah.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child which is approved by South Sudan clearly states that children have the right to protection from harm, including child marriage and abuses as it’s the role of, community influencers in particular, to take advantage of the increased focus on child marriage.
“We girls are the ones allowing ourselves to be used by those useless men, as a girl know how to say NO to a man and face your studies or if that man wants to marry you, he should wait until you finish your studies not to have sex with you at the end of it, he runs away and abandons you with the baby knowing well it’s his responsibly” she added.
According to a new report launched in Juba on Friday by a local civil society group Support Peace Development Initiative Organization (SPIDO), found alarming rates of early child marriages, pregnancies and prostitution in the three states of; Eastern, Central and Western Equatoria respectively and more than 1,500 teenage girls in South Sudan have either been married off or impregnated since April last year.