News Desk |
A man sold his 17-year old daughter on Facebook in South Sudan to the highest bidder, a wealthy man thrice the age of the girl. The man paid a hefty child bride price of five hundred cows, two luxury cars, $10,000, two bikes, a boat, and a few cell phones to the father of the girl.
The deal was settled after a heated bidding that continued for days. This is the highest ever child bride price paid in the history of South Sudan. At least four other men participated in the bidding including the state’s deputy governor.
The Facebook post caused huge international and national outcry. The Human Rights Lawyer Philip Anyang Ngong intervened last month to stop the bidding. It took several days for Facebook to take down the post.
The post advertising the girl was advertised on October 25th, but Facebook took the post down on 9th November- six days after she was married to the highest bidder. The girl is the man’s ninth wife. Facebook has been slammed by its users for a sluggish response while allowing the 17-year child bride to be sold through their platform.
Photos posted on the Facebook shows the girl sitting beside the groom, wearing a bridal dress and staring at the floor. The Human Right’s Lawyer Ngong told the international news agency that “she has been reduced to a mere commodity,” calling it “the biggest test of child abuse, trafficking and auctioning off a human being.” He demanded action against all the people involved.
George Atim, the country director for Plan International South Sudan said “This barbaric use of technology is reminiscent of latter-day slave markets. That a girl could be sold for marriage on the world’s biggest social networking site in this day and age is beyond belief”, while speaking to the international news agency.
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Government’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said that “You can’t call it bidding as if it was an auction. It’s not bidding. If you see it with European eyes you’ll call it an auction. You have to see it with an African eye, as it’s a tradition that goes back thousands of years. There’s no word for it in English.”
The tradition of child marriage and paying child bride money is being followed religiously in South Sudan despite government declaring it illegal. As per the recent figured published by the UNICEF, nearly 50% of the South Sudanese girls are married before the age of 18. The South Sudanese government condemns the practices but says cannot regulate the cultural areas in remote areas.
The Facebook also issued a statement on the incident and called the post violating its standards. “We’re always improving the methods we use to identify content that breaks our policies, including doubling our safety and security team to more than 30,000 and investing in technology”, read the statement.