JUBA, South Sudan — Earlier this month, a teen going by the name Nyalong, 17, became a South Sudan man’s ninth wife. Pictures posted on Facebook illustrate her emotional state as she sits by the groom just staring at the floor.
At least four other men competed, says Philips Anyang Ngong, a human rights lawyer who attempted to stop the bidding last month. The state’s deputy governor was also bidding but he lost to a man three times the 17-year-old’s age.
So how much? In a heated bidding war that went viral after the auction was pointed out on Facebook, the South Sudan child bride was finally exchanged for five hundred cows, two luxury cars, $10,000, two bikes, a boat and a few cell phones made up the final price. The government said it is the largest dowry ever paid in the civil war-torn country.
Once the bidding war sparked outrage and caught on globally, it took many days for Facebook to finally remove the bidding post. George Otim, country director for Plan International South Sudan, said “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,” he said.
Facebook has not commented.
While South Sudan’s government condemns the practice of child marriage it says it can’t regulate communities’ cultural norms, especially in remote areas.