The Executive Director of the Center for Peace and Advocacy (CPA), a human rights advocacy has condemned the jailing of a woman for rejecting a man proposed by her parents for marriage.
“CPA is deeply concerned about the unhealthy decision taken by Wau Juvenile Detention Centre in South Sudan’s Western Bahr el Ghazal State for a young lady who refused the man who wanted to marry her without her full consent,” said Gatwech Ter Manyang in a statement issued over the weekend in Juba.
19 -year-old Mary Akwac Michael who hails from Warrap State is currently serving a three-month jail term for rejecting her parent’s choice for marriage.
She was convicted in early November by a court in Wau after her family demanded she marries a man who is not the father of her 8-month-old baby.
Gatwech said that Akwac’s family should understand that South Sudan has laws protecting every citizen’s rights regardless of their status or sex.
He called for her immediate release to continue with her normal life in society.
“Every person of marriage age shall have the right to marry a person of the opposite sex and to found a family according to their respective family laws, and no marriage shall be entered into without the free and full consent of the man and woman intending to marry,” says Article 15 of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011 as amended.
“A woman’s right to choose a spouse and enter freely into marriage is central to her life and her dignity and equality as a human being. Other countries allow a woman’s marriage to be arranged for payment or preference; in others, women’s poverty forces them to marry foreign nationals for financial security. Subject to reasonable restrictions based for example on a woman’s youth or consanguinity with her partner, a woman’s right to choose when, if, and whom she will marry must be protected and enforced by law,” said Gatwech.