Facebook Hosts Child Bride Auction

Soughting payment for her hand in marriage, Facebook hosted an auction on its website for a 16-year-old South Sudanese bride.

The messaging giant said that it immediately took down the post as soon as it learned of it, however, it wasn’t enough as the damage was done, and the girl was married.

As per the children’s rights organization—Plan International—the girl was bid on by 5 men, some of them were seemingly from South Sudanese government officials.

Objectors are worried that this auction will give an inspiration to other families to use such social media platforms to receive larger payments. The girl’s father received $10,000, 3 cars, and 500 cows in exchange for his daughter.

George Otim Plan International’s country director in South Sudan said, “That a girl could be sold for marriage on the world’s biggest social networking site in this day and age is beyond belief.”

He further added, “This barbaric use of technology is reminiscent of latter-day slave markets.”

Facebook told CNN that its site was used for the auction, which began on October 25 and it took that post down on November 9 that is fifteen days later.

A company spokesperson said in a statement, “Any form of human trafficking — whether posts, pages, ads or groups are not allowed on Facebook. We removed the post and permanently disabled the account belonging to the person who posted this to Facebook.”

The spokesperson further added, “We’re always improving the methods we use to identify content that breaks our policies, including doubling our safety and security team to more than 30,000 and investing in technology.”

Nevertheless, CNN discovered that Voice of America (VOA) issued a report specifying the bidding event for a 16-year-old girl in South Sudan on November 6 that is just 3 days prior to Facebook removing the post.

But as per a source familiar with the removal process at Facebook, the messaging platform was oblivious to VOA’s report and did not take down the post until a local media report in the Kenyan publication came to its notice on November 9.

The South Sudanese National Alliance for Women Lawyers (NAWL) said CNN that the bidding event was not posted by her family, but somebody else from the community did it and the family reaped the benefits from the auction.

Suzy Natana, a lawyer at NAWL said, “A few of our colleagues were able to get in touch with the mother (of the bride) and she was not happy about it.”

Judy Gitau, Equality Now’s regional coordinator for Africa said, “Violations against women in South Sudan are a continuing issue, but for Facebook to allow their platform to enhance these violations is a problem.”

“They ought to put in place more human resources to monitor their platform to ensure that women’s rights, and indeed the rights of all people, are protected.”