The parents of a South Sudanese 17-year-old girl are under fire for reportedly auctioning her off as a bride via Facebook for a dowry including 500 cows, several cars and $10,000 in cash.
Though child marriage is illegal in South Sudan, the country is one of many where the practice is still common. Nevertheless, a Facebook posting for the auction — reportedly won by a businessman three times the girl’s age — drew worldwide outrage when it surfaced in recent weeks.
George Otim, country director of Plan International South Sudan, was among those who condemned the online auction.
“This barbaric use of technology is reminiscent of latter-day slave markets,” Otim said. “That a girl could be sold for marriage on the world’s biggest social networking site in this day and age is beyond belief.
“While it is common for dowries to be used in marriages in South Sudanese culture, nothing can excuse the way this girl — who is still a child — has been treated as nothing more than an object, sold off to the bidder prepared to offer the most money and goods,” he said.
Facebook removed the posting, but it was reportedly too late, as the girl had already been married by the time the social media network took action.
“Any form of human trafficking — whether posts, pages, ads or groups — is not allowed on Facebook,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “We removed the post and permanently disabled the account belonging to the person who posted this to Facebook.”