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Juba girls’ school students voice concerns about early marriage

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MAY 14, 2016 (JUBA) – Students and teachers from Juba Girls Secondary School have voiced their concerns about forced early marriage in South Sudan.

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School girls from Hope and Resurrection Senior Secondary School, in Rumbek East county of Lakes state South Sudan, 20 Oct. 2010 (ST)

A high proportion of the women currently serving in government in South Sudan have been educated at Juba girls school. South Sudanese women have however been complaining that gender equality is not in place in the country.

Female students have a long list of grievances – customary laws mean that many girls are leaving school early without completing their studies. Some leave before completing primary school, others before finishing secondary, many don’t get education at all.

Juba multiple girls who spoke to Sudan Tribune at school complained that forced marriage is a major obstacle to girl’s child education.

Victoria is among the Juba girl’s secondary school students who are advocating an end to earlier marriage which they said is a potential source of income for some poor families in South Sudan.

“So we girls are suffering a lot, our future is very dark only 10 per cent are the ones who can finish their school but the majority are getting married early,” she said.

This warning of how important equality in education is to the people of South Sudan is echoed by Grace Yibur. She said boys and girls are not getting equal opportunities.

“Girls who drop out from school might be poverty, because if the family is suffering from poverty, the girl will drop out from school because if the family does not have money, the girl will drop out from school. Secondly, equality at home, when the parents are not making equality as am a girl and I have a brother then my mother will not make us to be the same, this will make me to lose my effort for going to school because my mother will say a boy is a boy, let him go to school than me I will cook at home.”

Henerita Yoasa Tombe, a headmistress of Juba girl’s secondary school urged parents to abandon forced early marriage.

“What we have in South Sudan, there are some tribes who do marry [off] their daughters at the age of 14 to 15 even to a man of 70 years, me, am urging these tribes to send their daughters to school because these girls, when they are educated, they can help them a lot in many fields, economically, they will help parents and the whole country,” she said.

At the same time, Victoria described other challenges now facing girl children as a result of customary cultural practices.

Suzan Keji John a fourth year secondary student at Juba girls school explained more.

“Even if you dropped out from school and got married, you have a child, you still have to go back to school to continue with your studies and do like the rest of people though you are facing some challenges, people are saying this girl got married before, she has a husband, she has a child, but for me if it is me, I don’t care, I just continue with my studies for my feature.”

The girl’s at Juba Secondary are convinced that equality in education is key to the nation’s successful future… Grace Yibur.

“Just let him hard, if you graduate a girl or a woman, you graduate a nation because they will do good things, in South Sudan now, we don’t have equality like some men say that a woman is a woman without knowing that a woman is just like the same like them and they should stop segregation and make equality,” said another student, Grace Yibur.

The headmistress Henerita Yosa Tombe said blocking a girl’s education can affect the whole family.

“Am urging the parents because this is a setback on them, so the parents should allow their daughters to go to school because they are the feature, tomorrow they are the ones to lead this country, so let people stop forcing girls into earlier marriage, they have their chance to their choice, they should not be forced into marriage,” said Juba girls school headmistress.

(ST)

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