Home | News    Saturday 23 October 2010

Girl kills herself after being forced to marry in Lakes state

By Manyang Mayom

October 21, 2010 (RUMBEK) – A 17 year old school girl has killed herself in Wulu county of Lakes state last month after being forced to marry a man by her family, according to police and the county Commissioner.

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School girls from Hope and Resurrection Senior Secondary School, in Rumbek East county of Lakes state South Sudan, 20 Oct. 2010 (ST)

Nyikada Ngoki from the Yidula tribe who was forced to married Adal Mangok of the Yiberti tribe shot herself dead using a gun belonging to his in-law after she was left in house by herself.

Nyikada’s family of Ngoki received a dowry of SDG 3,000 ($1,268).

According a family member, who did not want to be named, Nyikada had told her parents she would kill herself if she was forced to marry Mr. Mangok.

“There is no legal procedure case being open against the both family after girl killed herself” said the family member.

In Wulu county dowries are often paid with with money, honey and cattle.

County commissioner Gideon Shilur, said that he had ordered the local police to apprehend the family in question but no progress had been made.

Force marriage was “not our culture” said the commissioner. “We don’t have cultures of force marriage,” said Shilur.

The commissioner said that he was going to sit down with Wulu community to discuss this at a “family level.”

Lakes state advisor for gender and human right affairs, Adak Costa Mapuor, said rural communities needed to double their effort to avoid cultures which are harmful to girls’ education.

Costa said that marriage is often a gentleman’s agreement in Dinka society.

“We need time to educate [the] population […] although we don’t have proper law [to] regulate marriages in Dinka society,” she said.

Another young school girl, Martha Athou Lueth, 16, was beaten to death by her family in September this year when she became pregnant, according to the headmaster Anthony Mading.

The student at Hope and Resurrection Senior Secondary School in Rumbek East county of Lakes wanted to marry the father of the child but the relationship between the two families did not allow them to marry each other.

Women’s rights issues are still a major problem for women in Sudan.

Girls from Hope and Resurrection senior secondary school in Atiaba Payam (ward) of Rumbek East county told their stories to Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.

Adut Makur Matak

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Adut Makur Makat, 15 who is being forced to marry an older man by her family, Hope and Resurrection Senior Secondary School in Rumbek East county of Lakes state South Sudan, 20 Oct. 2010 (ST)

Fifteen year old, Adut Makur Matak broke into tears as she described how her parents are attempting to force her to marry a man over twice her age.

“I don’t love this man – this is first time I see him in all my life” she said.

Adut says that she learned that the man had tried to look for a wife in Khartoum but had failed. He is also divorced from his first wife, she says.

Her parents have continuously tried to convince Adut to marry the man despite her telling them she was not ready to get married.

“I told them my condition that I am underage and I need to continue with my education first – I [tried] hard to convince my parent[s] telling them that, I just [was] left with two years to complete secondary school. But they closed-off their mind.”

She says she told her parents that she did not love this man. “But my relatives refuse and I have no alternative […] I don’t know what do “said Adut.

Adut’s father, Makur Makat told Sudan Tribune that the girls were “the property” of both her family and her future in-laws. “It is agreement between my relative and my in-law to married Adut to a husband whom we selected to her,” he said.

At first he said he objected but he was convinced by his future in-laws’ offer of a dowry of 120 cows.

Adut’s mother has set only one condition to the man her daughter is due to marry. She made him sign a document with the administration if Hope and Resurrection School to guarantee that he will let her complete secondary school studies.

Deborah Yar Makuei

Deborah Yar Makuei, 16 years old, told Sudan Tribune that parents should stop forceful marriages because it was hampering girls education. Educated girls, she said, can manage her house and parents without difficulties.

According to Deborah some families force their daughters to marry in order to receive the dowry, which can be many cows.

Despite girls wanting to gain an education parents often overlook this as they “love cows” more than the life of their girls, Deborah said.

She accused the southern government of “turning blind eye [to] forceful marriages.”

The school girl appealed to girls and parents not to allow girls to get married at a young age.

Early marriage and uneducated women were having a negative impact on the community she said.

Yar dreams of becoming a lawyer so she can deal with land disputes and forceful marriages in Sudan. “I need to become lawyer in the future – I need to know more [about] policy, about our land and [the] cultures which kill our community.”

Presscilla Amat Gabriel

Presscilla, 15, told Sudan Tribune that she wished families would look at young girls and see future leaders, rather than looking at them and thinking of the cows they can get from the dowry.

“We need freedom from earlier marriages and forceful marriages so that we can continue our education correctly without disturbance”.

“All women in Southern Sudan are subjected to fetch water and cook food for [their] family,” she said.

“We are sold in exchange for cows and on we end up in bringing up a poor family. That is how many in our country will continue to be. We will continue to have a poor country if our women are not educated”, said Priscilla.

Priscilla said she would like to become a doctor if she is able to complete her studies.

Lakes states parliament has passed a provisional Act to stop forceful marriages in the community but that act has not been recognized by the community.