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South Sudan: Provide justice for girl killed for refusing to marry

A 20-year-old girl has been killed in South Sudan for refusing to marry a man her family had selected for her, according to a government official in Yirol. The inhumane consequence of this forced marriage that resulted in her death only highlights the need for an urgent end to this practice which is widespread in South Sudan, Amnesty International said today.

Forcing someone to marry against their will is a clear violation of South Sudan’s own constitution as well as its international human rights obligations.
Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and Great Lakes Region

“Forcing someone to marry against their will is a clear violation of South Sudan’s own constitution as well as its international human rights obligations,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and Great Lakes Region.

“The marriage and killing are not only illegal, but also inhumane. We call on the government to immediately hold the responsible individuals to account.”

Many families in South Sudan forcibly marry off their daughters for dowry, including girls under the age of 18. In November 2018, a girl aged between 16 and 17 was forcibly married after a controversial auction on Facebook. According to a 2017 UNICEF study, 52% of South Sudanese girls are married by the time they are 18.

“The patriarchal practice of forcing young girls and women to marry is a cruel manifestation of the large inequality between men and women in South Sudan. Rather than being resourceful and inspirational leaders and members of society, women and girls are treated as communal commodities,” said Joan Nyanyuki.

Amnesty International is calling on the government of South Sudan to take urgent steps to end early, forced and child marriage and to ensure that individuals perpetrating this heinous form of gender-based violence and violating the country’s laws are brought to book. Women and girls’ rights must be protected.