Facebook has been labeled a modern day “slave market” after a teenage girl from South Sudan was auctioned off on the social media site as a child bride.
According to Plan International, the 16 or 17-year-old was sold by her father for 500 cows, three cars and $10,000 after five men made bids in the auction (some of whom are reportedly high-ranking government officials).
The girl was married off to the auction winner on November 3 in Sudan’s Eastern Lakes State.
CNN reports it took 15 days for Facebook to take the auction post down – several days after the girl was married. In a statement, the company said it removed the post as soon they learned of it.
“Any form of human trafficking – whether posts, pages, ads or groups – is not allowed on Facebook. We removed the post and permanently disabled the account belonging to the person who posted this to Facebook,” the statement read.
The Country Director of Plan International South Sudan, George Otim, slammed the social media giant, saying, “This barbaric use of technology is reminiscent of latter-day slave markets. 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,” Otim continued.
Plan International is calling on the South Sudanese government to investigate the matter and those involved in the auction.
Despite being prohibited by international law, child marriage is a growing epidemic in South Sudan. UNICEF reports 52 per cent of girls in South Sudan are wed before age 18.
According to Girls Not Brides, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18 every year worldwide. That’s 23 girls every minute. Almost one every two seconds.
The effects of child marriage are tragic and far-reaching. “Child marriage is a serious violation of human rights and a form of violence against girls. It can have profound consequences on a child’s survival, health, education, development and well-being and is often carried out against their will and best interests,” explains Otim. “Girls who marry are at a high risk of early childbearing, maternal mortality and are also often socially isolated – cut off from family and friends and other sources of support.”