21st February 2020
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Update: Teenage girl beaten to death for choosing a poor man in Gok

Author: Priscah Akol, Jale Richard, Joakino Francis | Published: 2 months ago

A 16-year-old girl in Gok State was reportedly beaten to death by her brothers on New Year’s Eve after getting pregnant to a poor man before marriage.

The teenage girl’s father had purportedly arranged to marry her off to another man who had accepted to pay an unknown number of cattle as dowry-an amount of property or money brought by a bridegroom to his in-laws.

According to Mamer Nyinnypiu who is a cousin brother to the victim, the girl reportedly went missing only to be found at the home of another man who had impregnated her.

“The parents happen to give the girl to another man who was ready to marry her, the girl insisted that she cannot leave the husband who impregnated her, that is what provoked her brother to fight her until she passed away,” Mamer told Eye Radio on Wednesday.

Mamer said after learning that the girl was pregnant for a man who had only two cows, her brother started beating her using sticks-causing her death.

“We have to condemn it, the girl has rights to choose any person to marry,” he said. “My people of great lakes region, we have to leave behind this issue of dowry. Life of a person is more than dowry. You cannot kill a human being because of dowry.”

The girl’s brother who allegedly beat her to death has not been arrested, according to Mamer.

It is not the first time such a case is reported in the lakes region of the country. In April last year, a 20-year-old girl in neighboring Yirol was beaten to death for refusing to marry a man her family had selected for her.

Many families in South Sudan forcibly marry off their daughters-including girls who are under the age of 18 for dowry.

According to a 2017 UNICEF study, some 52 per cent of South Sudanese girls are married by the time they are 18.

Article 17 of South Sudan’s Transitional Constitution guarantees women and girls the right to consent to marriage.

Women rights activists condemn the act

Women rights activists have condemned the killing of the teenage girl in Gok State, calling for investigations and punishment of the suspect.

Mary Akech Bior, the Chairperson of Women Block of South Sudan described the incident as an “archaic and barbaric act.”

“I seriously and strongly condemn the act of the parents to this innocent girl, she is a human being and she has the right to choose whom she wants to marry,” Ms. Akech says of the deceased teenage girl.

“In cultural practices girls were not beaten to death by their parents, maybe this trend is emerging due to poverty, people are trying to turn marriage into something else.”

Suspect arrested

The commissioner of Duong County in Gok State said the state police on Wednesday arrested the man who allegedly beat his sister to death.

“We have apprehended that brother and took him to the state capital,” said Abraham Gop told Eye Radio on Thursday. “He is now in custody at the police waiting for investigation and the trial.”

Mr. Gop said the act was unacceptable in the society.

He says although the act is connected to a cultural belief that a girl is a source of wealth,  it is against the laws of South Sudan that protects the rights of women and girls.

Mr. Gop appealed to communities in the lakes region to abandon all “outdated cultural practices” that demean the dignity of women and girls.

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