CSOs meeting with traditional leaders on early and forced marriages in Rumbek civic engagement center [Photo by Mabor Riak]
By Mabor Riak Magok
RUMBEK, 03 March 2017 [Gurtong]-The roundtable discussions is aimed at creating platforms for CSOs, traditional leaders and the local government to engage in meaningful discussions to find a common ground of handling such cases that victimizes young girls within the society.
The facilitator of the training, Machar Manyiel Ater said that even women who attended the discussion complained that some traditional practices are being carried out by some educated men and urged the CSOs to continue engaging with traditional leaders to enlighten them on such matters.
Alfred Makur another facilitator said the civil society organization and traditional leaders had form steering committees that will continue to advocate and lobby to stop early and forced marriages.
He said the committee is composed of 5 members drawn from CSOs, Traditional leaders and local government officials.
Mary Yar Dor,an MP who was present during the round table discussion said that the traditional customary laws defines a girl to have matured if she has had her first monthly period (menstruation) while the child act defines a girl to have matured if she has reached the age of 18 year.
Some of the recommendations that came out of the meeting are as follows;
1-Establishe steering committee to advocate on behalf of victims or potential victims of early and forced marriages
2-Create mechanism of discussions on negative traditional practices that affect the young girls
3-Girls will have access to report likely cases of early and forced marriages
4-customary laws to be reviewed and CSOs to lobby for change in the traditional way of doing things that has negative impact.
Lakes State has witnessed a number of conflicts related to force and early marriages, this is because young girls that are married off or forced to marry men usually above their ages ended up divorcing, either by committing adultery or even committing suicides.
When a divorce occurs between the couples, dowry is expected to be returned to the family of the man, either by collecting the original cattle paid by the side of the husband or through compensations of equivalent number of cows if original cows are not available any longer or difficult to retrieve.
This process involve bitter exchange of words and court processes which eventually may result into physical confrontation between the families and in the event death occurrs, it turns communal hence, resulting into inter-communal conflict.
Handling such cases becomes a complex issue. Marriages in Dinka settings are handled through customary laws but when it involves death it falls under the jurisdiction of statutory laws further complicating the issues.
Judiciary ends up forming ‘Special Courts’ which is a hybrid of customary courts and statutory courts to hear cases of dual competence.