AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Forced marriages increase the risk of violence and suicide for women

Saturday, 12 November 2022

Wau (Agenzia Fides) - A young 19-year-old mother is serving a three-month prison sentence in the Wau juvenile detention center, in the western Bahr el Ghazal state of South Sudan, for refusing to marry a man chosen by her family.
Forced by her parents to marry a man who divorced his Kenyan wife but has two other wives, the young woman, originally from Warrap State, told a local broadcaster that she was sentenced in early November by the Wau court after her family had asked her to marry a man who is not the father of her eight-month-old baby. "I told my parents that I don't want to marry the father of my child, regardless of whether he pays a dowry", she explained.
Upon learning that she had no choice in the matter, she was immediately ordered not to leave the house or go to work. "When I went to work, I didn't come home because I knew that if I went back, they would do something bad to me or I would kill myself", she said. The girl decided to go to the house of the father of her child, but both were arrested on the same day and sent to court, where she was sentenced to serve three months in prison.
"Let us consider the right of a woman, the right of a child, before sentencing and sending a young mother to prison," warned the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare of the state of Western Bahr el Ghazal, who has condemned the decision of the family, comparing it with gender violence. Almost half of the girls in South Sudan are married before the age of 18. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 12/11/2022)