On behalf of all us, daughters of South Sudan

A blog post on child marriage and what it is like to be a girl in South Sudan

Zikra Gibriel Alfred, 17 years old.
A girl looking into the camera
UNICEFSouthSudan/Ryeng
30 September 2020

Practices such as child marriage, the preference to educate boys over girls, dropping out of school and early pregnancies have greatly affected girls’ education. You find girls three times more likely to die due to childbirth than complete primary eight. Girls who are not married should be supported. They need reproductive health services to avoid early pregnancy because girls who are able to stay in school enjoy a broad range of opportunities for their future. Government and the community must work together to ensure girls have access to education, health, nutrition, child protection, hygiene information and life-skills training.

Most girls drop out of school because of poverty and lack of support in the family. Due to lack of support and poverty in the family, parents are not able to provide all the needs of their daughter. So, a girl may find any person who may be a source of support to her which may lead to early pregnancies.

Some of us girls lost our parents, we live with our guardians who mistreat and let us do a lot of work- day and night with no rest. Other girls involve themselves in prostitution to get money. We girls need to be protected, are we created to cook, clean, wash and fulfil people’s desires? Who will fulfil and listen to our problems?

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, many girls were impregnated, others were robbed and other were defiled because they are weak, and they have no support. Who will wipe their tears?

Our parents use us as source of income through dowry, they force us to marry early without asking our choices and opinion. Some of us girls don’t acquire education but have a bright future inside of us. We have the ability and the skills but there is no way to apply it because we lack the knowledge and there is no one to direct us on what to do.

We need your collective responsibility and we need to be empowered to realize dreams and aspirations; we need to be saved from the burdens which is beyond comparison because we are suffering.

Zikra Gibriel Alfred, 17 years old

Others live with fathers and no mothers to take care of them and support, give them advises and instructions about how to live, how to take care of themselves and avoid early pregnancy and how to keep personal hygiene. Some of our fathers have no idea about our needs as girls, some of our fathers have no strength to approach us directly or give us instructions and advices. They fear to talk to us about the changes we are undergoing.

Sometimes it is true to say parents are the root cause of their girls’ failures. They keep us inside with an old mentality of “they will meet boys and fall in love with them whenever they talk to the opposite sex.”

You have to leave your daughter to know about the modern world and what is happening in it, you have to teach her the advantages and disadvantages of every step and everything she is doing. Don’t put her under pressure, you have to be friendly to your daughter and know every step she is taking, whether it is good or bad.Let your daughter trust you and share with you all her secrets, sorrows and joy.

We need your collective responsibility and we need to be empowered to realize dreams and aspirations; we need to be saved from the burdens which is beyond comparison because we are suffering.