Child marriages on the rise in Boma State: official

Cases of child and forced marriages are on the rise in South Sudan's Boma State, an official said.

The state minister for gender, child and social welfare, Lydia Peter Agolory told Radio Tamazuj on Tuesday that the proportions of early and forced marriages have significantly increased in the area.

She said families book two or three years old children for marriage.

According to the minister, early and compulsory marriages were the biggest threats to girls' education, which most families discourage.

Ms Agolory has attributed the problem to poverty, customs and traditions.

She said few girls enrolled in schools this year than the previous year.

"This year, there are four girls in grade eight, compared to three girls who sat for primary leaving exams last year. This is only in Pibor and it shows a slight improvement if added to those in Pochala and Jebel Boma, stressed Agolory.

She cited migration of pastoralists in search for pastures and shelter for their cows as one of the challenges facing education in the state.

South Sudan's constitution defines a child as anyone under the age of 18, and further states that the best interests of the child will be protected in all matters related to his or her life, and that they should not be subjected to exploitative practices or abuse.

According to United Nations figures, compiled before the country's civil war erupted in 2013, just over half the female population are married before they turn 18.

Source: Radio Tamazuj

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