News / Africa

Child Marriage in South Sudan Pushes Maternal Mortality Higher

Sixteen-year-old Akuot was beaten for three days after she refused to be married off in exchange for a dowry of cattle, is shown here in Bor, Jonglei state, South Sudan, Feb. 2013.
Sixteen-year-old Akuot was beaten for three days after she refused to be married off in exchange for a dowry of cattle, is shown here in Bor, Jonglei state, South Sudan, Feb. 2013.
Selah Hennessy
Human Rights Watch says widespread child marriage in South Sudan is violating girls’ rights, limiting female education and contributing to soaring maternal mortality rates.

David Mepham of Human Rights Watch said the child marriage report is based on more than 80 interviews with girls and women.

“There is a case of a girl who was 15 at the time she was married off in 2003. Her family wanted her to be married to a man who was 75 years of age. She understandably resisted that, did not want to go through with it. But she was repeatedly beaten by members of her extended family to force her into that marriage - so a really awful example, but there are many like it,” said Mepham.
 
According to government statistics, just under half of girls aged between 15 and 19 in South Sudan are married. Some marry as early as 12.

The Human Rights Watch report released Thursday says this has major implications for the education of girls and women, and for the overall well-being of the country. It says many girls are leaving school early, some as young as 11, to marry.

The report says government statistics from 2011 show just 39 percent of primary school students and 30 percent of secondary students are female.

Early marriages also have a major impact on female health, said Mepham.

“Many girls who are married young, will become pregnant young. And as we know from a whole host of statistics and pieces of research that have been done over the years, young girls, often before their bodies are fully formed, are particularly vulnerable to complications in pregnancy and childbirth. And actually maternal mortality rates amongst young girls are very, very high,” he said.

The report says few girls who try to escape an early marriage are provided legal protection in South Sudan. It suggests the government set a minimum age for marriage at 18.  Mepham said officials must then make sure girls are protected.

“What the South Sudanese authorities need to do is to put in place a basic legal structure that allows protection and some safeguards for girls who try to resist, often with great courage, being forced into marriages against their will,” he said.

Worldwide, an estimated 14 million girls are married before their 18th birthday every year.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid