Examining the Socio-Economic Ramifications of Early Girl-Children Marriages in the Victims’ Married Homes in Unity State: a Case Study of Bentiu Town
Author: Thudan James Gai
Supervisor: Solome Najjuka
The study sought to examine the social and economic effects of early girl-children marriages on the welfare of the girl-children in Bentiu Town, Unity State. The study was guided by the following objectives; to assess the factors contributing to early girl-children marriages in Bentiu Town, examine social and economic challenges brought on by early girl-children marriages on the victimís married family in Bentiu Town and suggest ways to overcome the magnitude of early girl-children marriages among the communities living in Bentiu Town, Unity State. The study adopted a case study research design with a sample size of 80 respondents. The data was collected from young women (victims of early girl-children marriages), parents of the victims, civil society groups, teachers, community health workers, traditional birth attendants, traditional authorities and public officials from the State Ministry of Social Welfare and Gender (SMOSWG) using self-administered questionnaires and an interview guide.
The findings on the nature of early girl-children marriages in Bentiu Town revealed that early girl-children marriages are frequent incidences with 85 teenage girls on average married each year in Bentiu and this causes dreadful developments in the community. The existing statistics show that most weddings conducted in Bentiu Town were weddings between teenage girls and elderly men. This has been evidenced by weddings observed by the researcher of this study in Bilnyaang, Kuerboni and Biemruok villages between May, 2011 and July, 2011.
The findings also revealed that young girls themselves were so uninformed that they did not know that early girl-children marriages had fatal social effects such as committing suicides due to failure in life, prostitution due to high rate of poverty among the early married women, sexual transmitted diseases as a result of young women selling their bodies to make a living, high rate of unwanted pregnancies and abortions, high rate of deaths caused by fistulas, obstructed deliveries, prolonged labour and stillbirths, gender-based violence caused by age-gap between the early married women and their elderly husbands and high rate of burglaries as a result of too many street children produced by early married women and could not be cared for and economic effects such as unemployment among the early married women since most of them did not finish their basic education to be able to get jobs, temptation to steal to make a living, highway robberies and road killings to make a living, imprisonments as a result of crimes and starvation, homelessness and fighting over land ownership due to lack of basic needs such as food, shelter and medication. They were uninformed because they were not allowed to go to schools because their parents hypothetically perceived that sending girls to schools would make them prostitutes and that would eventually make them (parents) lose the bride prices they would get from their girls.