‘Born to be married’: addressing child, early and forced marriage in Nyal, South Sudan

Publication date: 18 February 2019
Author: Elysia Buchanan

In South Sudan, early and forced marriage has many devastating consequences: it increases girls’ risk of death or complications during pregnancy and childbirth in a country with one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world; it is one of the primary reasons why 76% of South Sudanese girls are out-of-school; and it puts girls at greater risk of sexual, physical and emotional violence.

Oxfam research presented in this report found that the rate of child, early and forced marriage in Nyal, South Sudan, is among the highest in the world:  this is in a context in which women and girls in South Sudan face threats to their rights and well-being throughout their lives. Humanitarian organizations have highlighted that domestic and other forms of gender-based violence increased with the conflict in South Sudan. 

The signing of a peace deal in 2018 gives some hope that the situation in South Sudan may improve. But the conditions that exacerbated the risk of child, early and forced marriage for girls remain. Action is urgently needed: including a long-term commitment and investment at community, national and international levels – integrating activities for the prevention of harmful practices and in support of women’s empowerment into interventions across sectors. Any vision of a recovering South Sudan must be one that protects women and girls from violence, nurtures their rights and empowers them to lead.