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South Sudan teenager sold for 500 cows in 'barbaric' Facebook marriage auction Open in fullscreen

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South Sudan teenager sold for 500 cows in 'barbaric' Facebook marriage auction

Child marriage is illegal in South Sudan, however, over 50 percent are married early [Facebook]

Date of publication: 21 November, 2018

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A South Sudanese businessman has controversially married a teenage girl after buying her in a highly-publicised social media auction.

A South Sudanese businessman has controversially married a teenage girl after 'buying' her in a highly-publicised social media auction, local media and rights group have reported.

Kok Alat outbid other suitors in the Facebook auction last month by pledging over 500 cows, three four-wheel drive vehicles and $10,000 to win the hand of 17-year-old Elizabeth Nyalong.

The auction, in which high-ranking government officials took part, has been condemned by rights group Plan International.

"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," the group said in a statement.

Local media outlet Eye Radio reported last month that the minister of information in South Sudan's Eastern Lakes Province had confirmed that the auction was taking place.

"[She] is well-built and 7 feet tall," Taban Abel said, describing the teenage bride.

Abel said that among the bidding suitors was the deputy governor of Eastern Lakes.

According to rights groups, child marriage is illegal in South Sudan, however, more than half of girls are married before they turn 18.

Facebook has also come under attack from rights activist for failing to delete the post before the teenager was sold off.

"We feel [Facebook] should have much better vigilance and reporting mechanisms going on, so they can act quickly and efficiently when there are girls rights violations of this nature on their platforms. It is not good enough to say they were not aware of it," Plan International told Vice News.

A study last year revealed the "shocking scale" of violence against women and girls in South Sudan was double the global average.

South Sudan descended into war in late 2013, a US-funded study released in September put the death toll from the war to at least 382,900 - more than the official toll in the ongoing conflict in Syria.

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