Saturday, January 08, 2011
Early marriage in Sudan
Parents choose to marry off their daughters early for a number of reasons. Poor families may regard a young girl as an economic burden and her marriage as a necessary survival strategy for her family. They may think that early marriage offers protection for their daughter from the dangers of sexual assault, or more generally, offers the care of a male guardian.
Early marriage may also be seen as a strategy to avoid girls becoming pregnant outside marriage.
In southern Sudan, a teenage girl is far more likely to be a wife than a student. Out of a population of over 7 million people, only about 500 girls complete primary school each year. By contrast, one in five adolescent girls is already a mother.
Early marriage is common across the region, but in southern Sudan, wracked by decades of civil war, the problem has been exacerbated by endemic poverty.
A ‘bride price’, usually paid in cows, is due to a girl’s family on her wedding day – making a daughter one of the only realistic sources of income in a place where the average citizen lives on approximately 25 cents a day.