JUBA, South Sudan 

South Sudan’s government in partnership with UNICEF launched a campaign Monday against child marriage to address the challenges girls are facing. 

In South Sudan, 52% of all girls are married before they reach 18 and around one third of all girls are pregnant before turning 15, depriving them of their basic rights, and for some, even their lives.

With the slogan “Some things are not fit for children – marriage is one of them,” UNICEF is highlighting how child marriage can be damaging to girls’ education, development and ultimately their futures.

“With the closure of schools, more time spent at home and increased stress due to COVID-19, more girls have been exposed to increased risk of sexual abuse, child marriage and early pregnancies,” said Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare Ayaa Benjamin Warille.

She called on everyone in South Sudan to join hands in ending child marriage in the country.

Child marriage is deeply rooted in gender inequality and harmful social norms. South Sudan is among the countries with deeply entrenched cultural practices and social norms linked to gender. Child marriage is further fuelled by poverty.

“Through the campaign launched, we are sending a clear message that marriage is not for children. It harms children, especially girls, and it must end now,” said Mohamed Ag Ayoya, the UNICEF representative in South Sudan.

UNICEF is working with the government of South Sudan to implement the National Strategic Action Plan (2017-2030) to end child marriage by 2030.

Copyright 2021 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.