Facebook has come under fire after an auction for a Sudanese child was live on its platform for 15 days before it was taken down. While Facebook claims the post was removed as soon as they learned of the child bride auction, it was not before the child was married off to the highest bidder.
According to CNN, a 16-year-old Sudanese girl was placed on auction on Facebook in what is being described as a “barbaric use of technology.” Facebook told CNN that the post was removed on November 9 and that they took it down as soon as they became aware of it. However, this was 15 days after the post went live on October 25.
“Any form of human trafficking — whether posts, pages, ads or groups is not allowed on Facebook. We removed the post and permanently disabled the account belonging to the person who posted this to Facebook,” a spokesman for Facebook said in a statement on the matter.
“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.”
The girl was reportedly bid on by five men, according to Plan International, which is a children’s rights organization. Of those men, it is believed some were “high-ranking South Sudanese government officials.”
Facebook hosted an auction for a CHILD BRIDE: Site under fire for allowing online sale where South Sudanese girl, 17, was exchanged for 500 cows, three cars and $10,000 in cash pic.twitter.com/4dWGk2ZK8T— Nico Spalato (@NikeSpalato) November 21, 2018
CNN reports that the child bride auction was not done by the family, although they certainly benefited from the outcome.
“A few of our colleagues were able to get in touch with the mother [of the bride] and she was not happy about it,” said Suzy Natana, a lawyer at South Sudanese National Alliance for Women Lawyers (NAWL).
Plan International has reported that the girl’s father stood to receive “500 cows, 3 cars, and $10,000 in exchange for his daughter.” NAWL states that this is the highest bride price reported in that region.
It is believed that the child was married on November 3.
Plan International is now concerned that Facebook will be used more frequently now in an effort to garner higher prices for child brides.
George Otim, country director of Plan International South Sudan, issued the following statement on the matter.
“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.”
Plan International is now asking the South Sudanese government to investigate the matter and “suspend any officials who took part in the bidding.” The organization also encourages any girls who find themselves in a similar situation to come forth to the police.