A 20-year-old girl has been killed in South Sudan for refusing to marry a man who is said to have offered her family 40 cows as dowry.
Taban Abel, a state minister in Sudan, said the 20-year-old was punished by her brothers in the town of Yirol in Eastern Lakes State because she turned down a marriage proposal from a suitor her family had chosen.
Mr Abel, Minister of Information in Eastern Lakes, told Radio Tamazuj that Nyaluk Magorok’s parents forced the girl to marry a man who offered 40 cows to the family as dowry – an amount of property or money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage.
He said the man allegedly responsible for the girl’s death had been arrested to face murder charges – adding that the girl’s father had also been jailed to face the law.
“The father was [the] one who ordered people to kill his daughter because she refused to get married,” he said.
He condemned the killing and said forced marriage continues to be a challenge in the state.
Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and Great Lakes Region, said: “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.
“The marriage and killing are not only illegal, but also inhumane. We call on the government to immediately hold the responsible individuals to account.
“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.”
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.
Amnesty 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.