Facebook is currently under scrutiny for allowing a child bride auction of a 16-year- old South Sudanese child girl on its platform. The online auction held on Facebook asked people to bid on the minor’s dowry for her hand in marriage. According to Plan International, five men bid on the 16-year-old girl, including high-ranking South Sudanese government officials. From the online auction, the girl’s father received 500 cows, three cars, and $10,000, which is the highest dowry that has been reported in the region.
According to a statement by a Facebook spokesperson, Facebook “removed the post and permanently disabled the account belonging to the person who posted this to Facebook.” However, Facebook’s actions continue to enrage activists and women’s rights organizations including Plan International, the National Alliance for Women Lawyers (NAWL), and Equality Now. According to Plan International, Facebook did not take action until 15 days after the auction. Equality Now’s regional coordinator for Africa calls on Facebook to increase resources that monitor its platforms in order to ensure full protection of women’s rights and the rights of all people.
Plan International also called on the Sudanese government to investigate the officials involved in the auction. Child marriage is a serious violation of human rights, a form of violence against girls, and a violation of the Sudanese constitution, which states that “the best interest of the child will be protected in all matters related to his or her life, and that they should not be subjected to exploitative practices or abuse.”
Child marriage is a common issue in South Sudan and has serious impacts on girls. Girls who are married at a very early age are at a higher risk of early childbearing, maternal mortality, and are often isolated from family and other social support. According to a UNICEF 2017 report, 52 percent of girls in South Sudan are married before 18.
Newswire Sources: CNN 11/20/18; Plan International News 11/12/18