Bride, 16, sold in Facebook auction 'reminiscent of slave markets'

Bride, 16, sold in Facebook auction 'reminiscent of slave markets'
By Emma Beswick

Bride, 16, sold in Facebook auction 'reminiscent of slave markets'

A 16-year-old girl has been auctioned as a child bride on Facebook in South Sudan.

Multiple human rights organisations have spoken out against the auction, which allegedly saw the teen's father recieve 500 cows, 3 cars and $10,000 (€8,795).

“This barbaric use of technology is reminiscent of latter-day slave markets," said George Otim, Country Director of Plan International South Sudan.

The auction was removed by Facebook on November 9, but only after the girl had already been married off.

A spokesperson from the social network told Euronews: “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."

Five men bid in the auction, some of whom are reportedly high-ranking government officials, according to Plan International.

The organisation called upon the South Sudanese government to investigate the claims and take action, Susannah Birkwood, Global Press Officer for the East/Southern Africa and the Americas told Euronews.

Widely reported by local media to be the largest dowry of its kind in South Sudan, activists were worried the auction would encourage other families to use social media to earn higher dowries.

"There are reports the man who won the auction also gave the girl's wider family and community mobile phones and mattresses," Birkwood said. "So you can imagine there was a lot of pressure on her to go through with this marriage."

She added her organisation was going to focus future work on emphasising the responsible use of social media.

Facebook told Euronews it hired employees to optimize coverage in all languages and cultural contexts to ensure it could review reports as quickly as possible, 24/7.

Birkwood said Plan International's priority was to ensure the wellbeing of the girl, but this was just one of many cases.

While it is illegal for girls to marry under 18 in South Sudan, 52% marry below this age, according to the humanitarian organisation.

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