'We don’t want to be sold'
Ayen Nai, 17, lives in Bor town, Jonglei state. She is part of one of the Student Advocacy Teams established by Save the Children to support young people to advocate in their communities and amongst their peers against harmful practices such as early marriage. She is also one of less than 2% of girls in South Sudan who go on to study at secondary school.
At the first ever National Children’s Parliament organised by Save the Children in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, Ayen spoke passionately in front of government Ministers and the media about the needs to tackle early marriage and to encourage girls to continue their education.
“We don’t want to be sold like commodities,” said Ayen Nai. “Our parents should stop forced and early marriages. They should see the gains of tomorrow but not just of today.”
“In class 7 one of my friends, a 17-year-old girl called Amer was forced to marry a man that her parents had chosen, and soon after she dropped out of school.
“I was so sorry for her but now she is separated from that man and last year she joined primary eight and is sitting her final certificate examination this month.
“This is just one example of this problem. Most of the girls in my age-group are no longer in school because of forced and early marriages. Many girls are kept by their parents in the cattle camp in the hope that a man with cattle will develop an interest in her, and then the parents can marry her off.”