‘Facebook auction of South Sudan child bride could inspire other families’


The auction of a South Sudanese girl for marriage on Facebook has the likelihood to encourage other families to use social media as a medium to demand bigger dowries (lobola) for their daughters, activists said, urging authorities and the social networking giant to take much tougher action.

A picture of the 17-year-old, who is from South Sudan’s Eastern Lakes state, was posted on Facebook on October 25. The post said five men were participating in the auction for her dowry.

The highest bidder, a wealthy businessman, reportedly gave the girl’s father more than 500 cows, three luxury cars and $10,000 (R144,000) as dowry – and the teenager’s marriage took place on November 3, according to major girls’ rights charity Plan International.

Information minister Taban Abel in Eastern Lakes in the centre of the war-torn nation, said the girl had since gone into hiding in the capital, Juba.

Pictures showing the girl in a white wedding gown were shared on various social media sites. Some reports referred to her as a “virgin bride” or “the most expensive woman in South Sudan”.

“That a girl could be sold for marriage on the world’s biggest social networking site … is beyond belief,” said George Otim, country director of Plan International South Sudan.

Facebook said it removed the post and the user from its platform for violating its community standards last Friday, when it was made aware of the material. “Any form of human trafficking whether posts, pages, ads or groups that co-ordinate this activity are not allowed on Facebook,” a spokesperson said.

Campaigners have asked that Sudanese authorities take action against those involved in the bidding as some were reportedly state officials, according to Plan and local media.


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