8th December 2023
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Aweil girl sues parents over forced marriage

Authors: Okot Emmanuel | Priscah Akol | Published: Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Abuk Lual at Aweil police station, Northern Bahr el Ghazal state. Credit|

A 16-year old girl in Aweil town has sued her parents for attempting to force her into marriage.

Abuk Lual fled to Aweil police station after realizing that an arranged marriage was being initiated in the family.

The teenager accused the family of receiving 16 cattle in exchange for her hand in marriage.

In a police statement, the young girl said the family did not seek her consent.

“My parent wants to marry me off by force, but I opened a case against them at a nearby police station,” Abuk Lual told Eye Radio on Wednesday afternoon.

Abuk further accused her family of trying to lure her into the marriage with promises of a good home, while at the same time threatening her.

“Since I opened the case, I have been disowned by all my relatives, I am now staying at the police station,” she stated.

Abuk asserted that the actions by her parents and relatives are in violation of her constitutional rights.

Young Abuk Lual is now appealing for support from advocates to advance her case to the courts.

“The government should arrest parents who force their girls into marriage,” Abuk pleaded.

An officer at the protection unit in Aweil police station confirmed the case.

Sergeant Major Deng Ajing defended the actions of Abuk -describing her as an underage girl requiring the protection of the state.

“We will work with the public prosecutor since Abuk is now under the child protection unit -until the state Attorney general advises on the next steps,” he said, adding that  “a case against the two families” will be initiated.

According to the South Sudan constitution, every child has the right not to be subjected to exploitative practices or abuse, nor to be required to serve in the army nor permitted to perform work which may be hazardous or harmful to his or her education, health or well-being.

Under section 23 of the South Sudan Child act 2008 and section 247 of the penal code 2008, child marriage is a crime and is punishable by law.

Sergeant Deng urged the parents of Abuk and those who wanted to marry her to report to the police station or risk being arrested.

“We heard the father of the girl is not coming…if he doesn’t come we will get a warrant of arrest for the two families,” he warned.

South Sudan is one of 20 countries which has committed to ending child marriage by the end of 2020 under the Ministerial Commitment on comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young people in Eastern and Southern Africa.

In September, a local organization reported that more than 1,500 teenage girls were married off or impregnated in South Sudan since April this year.

It identified poverty as the main reason some parents force their daughters into marriages with the hope of getting rich.

It also attributed the 1,535 cases of child marriages and teenage pregnancies to the closure of schools.

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