Home | News    Saturday 25 December 2010

Lakes state youth campaign against pregnancy law

By Manyang Mayom

December 21, 2010 (RUMBEK) – Various youth organizations in Lakes state launched a campaign against the state’s law against impregnating girls in Rumbek on Monday.

Youth bodies from Lake’s state eight counties set up a committee to meet Lakes State Assembly speaker, Judiciary leaders and the state governor to lobby to reduce the sentences for convicted of impregnating girls before marriage.

A youth representative said the law was unfair as it targeted young men but not older men who are also responsible for making girls pregnant. The campaigner, who did not to be named, said that lawmakers should focus on preventing cattle raiding rather than early pregnancy if they wanted to stop conflict in the state.

Members of the youth groups said that State Speaker, John Marik Makur, replied to their demands saying that the new customary law was amended by traditional chief’s authority to reduce the high rate of impregnated school girls and underage girls.

However, youth members also demanded that early marriages and forced also be made illegal and for these acts to be included into new customary law.

Youth leaders also told the officials in the meeting that more jobs need to be made available to stop government officials from marrying underage girls. The youth leaders also said they need more jobs to be created by state government but state government declined saying that they did have enough funds.

Santino Adong, chairman for Rumbek Youth Union (RUMYU), criticized the new customary law saying that the new customary law does not meet the standard position of Dinka customary law cultures and norm of pastoralists across states such as Jonglei, Warrap, Unity and Lakes state.

He said that most of our children have no proper birth certificate to affirm whether they are underage or not.

Over ten young men have been sentenced to ten years in imprison by Lakes state’s court for impregnating school age and underage.

Judge Geri Raimondo Legge, told Sudan Tribune that judges were applying the “new customary law of Lakes state passed this year to this sentence youth members who impregnate underage girls and school girls”.

He said that the South Sudan Panel Code Act for 2009, could sentence person to 14 years imprisonment if you rape the girl – however Lakes state new customary law does not mentioned the jail term for impregnating girls but put the sentence for rape at a maximum of ten years.

According to another youth member, who requested not to be named, “we will protest against Lakes state legislatures until they will accept our call for changing this bad law – we will not give up our rights – we need human rights activists to help us.

He said that the officials who made the law were “uneducated”.

An unnamed youth leader told Sudan Tribune that if government of Lakes state did not address their demands, protests would be held within the next week.

He affirmed that “we will not celebrate Christmas while our youth members are sentence unlawfully – we need our arrested youth members to be free from that notorious jail – this new customary law is full inhumanity”.

Lakes state governor Chol Tong Mayay pushed the blame to Lakes state lawmakers for having not verified the customary law drafted by Lakes state traditional chiefs authority.

Tong said that “I have signed this new customary law into law because it was passed by lawmakers in parliament – it is up to lawmakers to change it once more if need is required by youth”.

Majority of youth members are blaming state governor for having let them down in allowing such law to hand out such long sentences.

(ST)