News / Africa

    S. Sudan Focuses on Girls' Rights on Day of African Child

    • Children march at the Nyakuron Cultural Center in Juba to mark the Day of the African Child.
    • South Sudanese school children hold a poster during a march in Juba to mark the Day of the African Child.
    • Ending child marriage is the focus of the Day of the African Child in South Sudan, where more than half of girls aged 15-19, like Akuot B., shown here, are married, often against their will.
    • The South Sudan government is poised to roll out a nationwide program to urge parents to keep their daughters in school.
    • Some children in South Sudan have to give up school because their parents expect them to work in cattle camps like this one.
    • A program in Western Equatoria state in South Sudan has succeeded in cutting the school dropout rate among girls by nearly half in one year.
    S. Sudan Focuses on Girls on Day of African Child
    Bonifacio Taban
    As the world marks the International Day of the African Child on Sunday, with a focus on doing away with practices that harm children, officials in South Sudan are driving home the message that the country must end child marriage and allow girls to stay in school.

    "We need to work together so that we can eliminate child marriage," Ministry of General Education official Joy Gordon Soro told a gathering in Juba.

    "Some years ago, there were some girls who were beaten by their parents, because they refused to be married. Another one kill herself because the parents needed her to be married at an early age. Parents, let us not force our children to marry at an early age,” Soro said.

    According to statistics from South Sudan’s Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, nearly half of South Sudanese girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are married, many of them against their will. Girls as young as 12 are married off sometimes, in exchange for a dowry.

    Child marriage is seen by many South Sudanese as "an important way for families to access much-needed resources, such as cattle, money, and other gifts via the traditional practice of transferring wealth through the payment of dowries," a report released in March by Human Rights Watch says.

    "In some communities, women are married for 300 cows. That’s a lot of wealth that you get, maybe, from your daughter," Biel Jock Thich, deputy chair of the South Sudan Human Rights Commission, is quoted as saying in the report.
    Parents, don't force your children to marry at an early age.

    Officials are trying to teach parents around South Sudan to let their daughters stay in school, where they can acquire skills that will ultimately allow them to contribute more wealth to the family than a one-off dowry payment of several hundred head of cattle.

    Priscilla Nyayang Joseph, the deputy minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, said at the event in Juba that the government will soon roll out a nationwide campaign to  encourage girls to stay in school, as part of its commitment to end child marriage.

    “You might not see things changing fast, but they going to change for the better and we want you to help," she said.

    In Yambio county in Western Equatoria state, a program to keep girls in school has seen the number of girls who dropped out because of pregnancy and early marriages fall from 184 in 2011 to 102 by the end of the 2012 school year.

    The Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991 to honor the children and adults who were gunned down in Soweto on that day in 1976, as they marched to protest the use of Afrikaans as one of the languages of instruction in schools, and in the riots that swept through the township in the weeks afterwards.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora