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S. Sudan has highest rate of girl-child marriage in Africa: rights body


By Julius N. Uma

June 16, 2017 (JUBA) – 52% of South Sudanese girls are married before their 18th birthday with the young nation having the lowest secondary school enrollment rate world over, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on the Day of the African Child.

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South Sudanese schoolgirls (Getty)

The U.S-based rights body said more than 49 million of pregnant and married adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa are denied their education because of discriminatory policies and practices, adding that 31 million of them out of secondary education, undermining their rights and limiting their opportunities.

In sub-Saharan Africa, 40% of girls marry before 18, and African countries account for 15 of the 20 countries with the highest rates of child marriage globally. The region also has the world’s highest prevalence of adolescent pregnancies. In 14 sub-Saharan countries, between 30 and 51 percent of girls give birth before they are 18.

“In South Sudan, 52 percent of girls marry before their 18th birthday. According to UNESCO [United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization], over 1.3 million primary-school-age children are out of school, and the country has the world’s lowest secondary school enrollment rate, at four percent,” HRW said.

Citing two South Sudanese girls forced to marry against their wishes, the report highlighted poverty and cultural practices that undermine girl child education in the East African country.

“My father refused me to go to school. He said it is a waste of money to educate a girl. He said marriage will bring me respect in the community. Now I have grown up and I know that this is not true. I cannot get work to support my children and I see girls who have some education can get jobs,” HRW quoted a South Sudanese young woman, Mary K., of Yambio County, Western Equatoria as saying.

Anyier D., a 18 year-old South Sudan woman, said that her uncles forced her to leave school at 14 in 2008 to marry an old man she did not know.

“I would wish to return to school even if I have children. People think that I am happy but I am not because I don’t have an education. I don’t have something of my own and I am only cleaning offices. If I had gone to secondary school, I would get a good job,” HRW quoted Anyier as saying.


Malawi and Tanzania are other African countries mentioned in the HRW report.

In Malawi, roughly half of all girls marry before age 18 and 27,000 girls dropped out of primary and secondary schools between 2010 and 2013. More than 4,000 girls in secondary schools dropped out due to marriage.

In Tanzania, fewer than a third of girls who complete primary schooling complete lower-secondary school, and over 15,000 girls drop out annually due to pregnancy. Human Rights Watch found that in some cases adolescent girls dropped out of lower-secondary school due to sexual exploitation and violence by teachers.

“Many adolescent girls become pregnant because they lack the information needed to make informed decisions about their sexuality, family planning, and their reproductive health, while others are coerced into sex and require protection and access to health services and support,” the report said.

“The African continent has one of the world’s highest rates of adolescent pregnancy, but many governments insist on tackling this social and public health challenge by punishing girls and jeopardizing their future,” said Elin Martínez, children’s rights researcher at New York-based rights body.

“Governments should focus on helping girls prevent unintended pregnancies and support their efforts to stay in school,” said Martínez.


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  • 16 June 2017 10:24, by Liberator

    Of course ,we wanted to increase our populations,the girl-child marriage doesn’t kill or harm but it can produce more babies to replace the number of the people who were killed during and after liberation,there is nothing bad on it .

    repondre message

    • 16 June 2017 10:37, by Eastern

      This is the stupid mindset the so-called liberators came with from the bush. I hear girl-child marriage doesn’t kill or harm!! Ignorance breeds poverty, which in turn breeds diseases and backwardness...

      repondre message

      • 16 June 2017 12:23, by Eyez

        Its appalling and mind boggling to hear that ROSS tops such a shameful list. But then again, what can we expect from a tribal government that lacks leadership.

        There are no National legal laws that criminalises girl-child marriage and as the Jienge do not respect any International Laws, I don’t see any end to this despicable act of brutality against young girls.

        repondre message

      • 16 June 2017 14:26, by Liberator

        If you are not a stupid person who was brought up in refugees camp and will die there, who told you 15 years old Girl and 18 years old boy are still children? this is a thinking of migrant like you .why 18 years old boy & girls allowed to vote in elections? you knew only eating of squirrel/ monkey meat .

        repondre message

    • 16 June 2017 12:02, by Black Nation

      Mr.Liberator, we need to talk sensibly not just throwing comment anyhow. Hw can girl-child marriage be supported and this is caused by lack of education, what we need is to’ve peace in the country so that all these things will be stable and we’ll ’ve good schools for children so that girl-child marriage’ll be abolish. What can U do if your daughter got pregnant while she is 14 yrs,’ll you b happy?

      repondre message

  • 16 June 2017 12:09, by Newsudan

    these are some of grievances that should be redress through constitution and rule of laws to be put in place and lifting of impunity for culprits of child marriage.

    repondre message

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