A family auctioned and sold their 17-year-old virgin daughter on Facebook to the highest bidder for 500 cows, three cars and $9,678, as human trafficking experts warn the social media platform is being used as a “latter-day slave market.”
The teen was sold and married to businessman Kok Alat on November 9 after a bidding war on Facebook between five men from South Sudan, including a high-profile politician.
David Mayom Riak, one of the men who placed bids on the teenage girl, is the deputy governor of Eastern Lakes State, and he had offered 250 cows as dowry.
He told South Sudanese broadcaster Radio Tamazuj: “I know the family very well because we were neighbours.
“I promised the family to marry her since she was still young.”
The Sun reports: Alat was declared the winner on August 3 after the teen’s father accepted 500 cows, three V8 cars and $9,678, a spokesperson from charity Plan International said.
In one photo from the girl’s wedding day she is sat next to her husband, who reportedly already has nine wives, in a white dress looking ahead with a blank and emotionless expression.
Another photo from the alleged auction shows a tall expressionless girl standing next to a smiling man.
The post reads: “Competition is perfectly allowed in Dinka/Jieng culture.”
Part of the post references her height and reads: “The kids of the winner are guaranteed for NBA slots.”
The post has now been removed and the family member has now been banned from Facebook after it came to their attention.
A Facebook spokesman told Thomson Reuters Foundation: “Any form of human trafficking whether posts, pages, ads or groups that co-ordinate this activity are not allowed on Facebook.”
George Otim, Country Director of Plan International South Sudan, said: “This barbaric use of technology is reminiscent of latter-day slave markets.
“That a girl could be sold for marriage on the world’s biggest social networking site in this day and age is beyond belief.
“While it is common for dowries to be used in marriages in South Sudanese culture, nothing can excuse the way this girl – who is still a child – has been treated as nothing more than an object, sold off to the bidder prepared to offer the most money and goods.”
Monica Adhiue, from South Sudan’s National Alliance for Women Lawyers, condemned the auction as “shocking and sad.”
She told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus: “The practice is a gross human rights violation and violates the rights of a girl.”