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Hunger in South Sudan’s Warrap State drives girls into early marriage

“I was only 13 when my parents forced me to get married”, says 15-year old Adut*, now a mother of one. She dropped out of school and married 42-year old Manut.

“My family left our village due to the conflict that erupted between two warring tribes”, she explains. She recalled how they sought refuge at a nearby internally-displaced persons (IDP) camp in Tonj South County where they now live. “Our home was destroyed”, she says.

She narrated that they were not very poor and could afford two meals a day but after the conflict, life became so hard that she became her family's source of survival. ”My bride price was 15 cows”, she sadly shares.

Adut's dreams were cut short when she was forced to get married at 13.

 

Adut sadly adds, “I dropped out of school after I got married and lived far from my parents.” Manut sells charcoal for a living, his only source of income. “Sometimes we sleep hungry if no one bought charcoal from us.” To help her husband, Adut helps sell the charcoal at home or collect firewood from the forest.

“My mother feels embarrassed of the situation I am in right now and has never visited me. I did not benefit from the cows given to my family. I regret this marriage but have no option”, Adut shares. She said that if she is able to save money, she wants to go back to school and fulfil my dream of becoming a doctor.

My mother feels embarrassed of the situation I am in right now and has never visited me. I did not benefit from the cows given to my family. I regret this marriage but have no option.

Before her husband started the charcoal business, he worked as a shopkeeper. But when few things at the shop went missing, he was imprisoned for a week. Abuk recalls the terrible time, “Alone in our house, I would cry with my daughter. I was scared because we were on our own.”

To help address the needs of IDPs in Warrap State’s Tonj counties, especially girls like Adut, World Vision, supported by the South Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SSHF) provides multi-sectoral interventions to crisis-affected population that include health, nutrition, food security and protection.

The SSHF mobilizes and channels resources to humanitarian partners to respond to the critical needs of millions of people affected by the devastating humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.

Now a mother, she has not given up looking forward to a bright future.

 

The project also supports girls and women on issues such as child and forced marriage. “I thank the World Vision staff for their psychosocial support and encouragement”, says Adut. She still longs to go back to her own family. “I want to go back home because I am suffering.”

Joseph Deng,  SSHF Project Manager says, “The project promotes community awareness on early child marriage, child abuse, gender-based violence and peace building. These activities are aimed at helping change the mindset of the people on these issues.”

Since the project started, an estimated 13,000 people, over 11,700 of these are women and girls, were reached with protection and gender-based violence awareness activities.

*Adut is not her real name.

Story and photos by Jemima Tumalu, Communications Officer