By James Gatdet Dak
January 2, 2009 (JUBA) – The semi-autonomous Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) resolved to workout a policy that would legalize child adoption by non-biological parent(s) in the region.
The policy will make it possible for families in need of child to legally adopt children through the consent of their families and application of the law.
It is aimed at giving chance to neglected children to be adopted through legal processes and to minimize the practice of child abduction by those who have no other legal means of getting a child.
The resolution was passed in the Council of Ministers meeting on Friday one week after five children were recovered in Pibor County of Jonglei state after they were previously abducted from Central and Eastern Equatoria states by a group of cattle raiders from the Murle community.
The Community has been widely accused of the practice of abducting children by other neighboring communities, and efforts previously exerted by the Government to halt the practice that has gone on for decades failed.
Among the recently recovered five children in the County during the visit of the Vice President, Riek Machar to the area, two of them are identified as children of a relative of Madam Agnes Lukudu Loro, Minister of Wildlife and Tourism.
NARRATION OF THE ORIGIN OF CHILD ABDUCTION BY MURLE
In their encounter with the Vice President in Pibor County, the Murle community leaders condemned the practice but defended the origin of their action and argued that they were “accepting and bringing up children rejected by certain societies” in order to give them to their childless families.
In the Pibor’s meeting the Jonglei state government was represented by the Minister of Finance who was delegated by Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk to tour the state counties with the Vice President.
The Murle particularly accused their Dinka Bor neighbors of allegedly being a party to the origin of the child trade in the state that has now become a crime widely condemned by both the Government and other communities in Southern Sudan.
To the Murle chiefs, the practice started decades ago as a free non-commercial adoption of Dinka Bor children who were rejected by their families mainly because they were initially born out of wedlock and then brought to the Murle community who accepted them for adoption for childless families.
They further explained that the non-commercial adoption gradually turned into a commercial exchange of Murle cows with Bor’s rejected or stolen children, until it became a full blown direct stealing and forceful abduction of children by the Murle from the neighboring communities.
However, the Dinka Bor community chiefs have been dismissing as unfounded the claim by the Murle community on the issue.
The policy to adopt a child and which is being processed by the Ministry of Gender, Social Welfare and Religious Affairs before it is discussed and passed by the parliament will give chance for adoption to neglected children through legal processes and may minimize child abduction practices by those who are in need of children and have no other legal means to get them.