I was shocked as I read a news on CNN, this morning, that a teenage girl in South Sudan was recently auctioned off as a child bride on Facebook, in barbaric use of technology.
An auction was held on the social media platform for a 16-year-old girl in South Sudan which sought payment for her hand in marriage. Facebook has told CNN that its platform was used for the bidding which started on 25 October. They said the post was taken down as soon as the company learned of it on 9 November, but that wasn’t until after the girl was married.
According to children’s rights organization Plan International, the girl was bid on by five men, some of whom were reportedly high-ranking South Sudanese government officials. According to Plan International, the girl’s father reportedly received 500 cows, 3 cars and $10,000 in exchange for his daughter, who was married off to the winning bidder at a ceremony on 3 November in the country’s Eastern Lakes State.
“That a girl could be sold for marriage on the world’s biggest social networking site in this day and age is beyond belief.”
— George Otim, country director for Plan International South Sudan
Child marriage is prohibited by international law, although it still occurs all over the world. Marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of human rights. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where the practice is most common, 38 percent of girls will marry, formally or informally, before their 18th birthday. South Asia sees the second highest levels at 30 percent, while Latin America and the Caribbean comes in third with 25 percent and the Middle East and North Africa are in fourth with 17 percent, according to UNICEF. According to UNICEF’s November 2017 figures, 52 percent of girls in South Sudan are married before they turn 18.
Children are married off for a number of reasons, UNICEF says, including poverty, religion, perceived protection for the child and family honour. Activists are now concerned that this auction could inspire other families to use social media sites to receive larger payments.