Facebook slammed for auctioning teen as child bride in a viral post

FavebookSAN FRANCISCO: Social Network giant Facebook has been slammed by human rights activists, for auctioning a teen as a child bride, in a post that went viral recently. Facebook failed to remove the post in which a South Sudanese man auctioned her 17-year-old daughter as a child bride, to the highest bidder.

In the auction, around five men, including the region’s deputy general, participated for bidding of the minor girl. The bid was won by a man who already had eight other wives. He paid the girl’s father two luxury cars, 500 cows, two bikes, a boat, mobile phones and $10,000 in cash.

The AfricanFeminism tweeted on late on Wednesday that a 16-year-old South Sudanese girl was sold off for marriage to the highest bidder on Facebook in November and a businessman from #SouthSudan outbid four others, which also included a senior Sudanese government official.

The post that went viral on Facebook read, “the biggest test of child abuse, trafficking and auctioning of a human being”, said Philips Anyang Ngong, a human rights lawyer. He also tried to stop the girl’s sale which couldn’t happen.

He said that those who were involved in this should be held responsible, including Facebook also. Plan International South Sudan, a Human rights organization, has condemned the use of the social media site for the girl’s auction. It compared it to modern-day slavery.

The organization’s director for South Sudan, George Otim, said, “This barbaric use of technology is reminiscent of latter-day slave markets”.

He also said that it’s beyond belief that a girl could be sold for marriage on the world’s biggest social networking site in this day.

A report of Human Rights Watch in 2015 noted that 40% of the girls in sub-Saharan Africa marry before they turn 18. Also, that 15 of the 20 nations with the highest rates of child marriage are in Africa.

Around 77% of the girls in Nigeria also get married before they are 18, while in Central African Republic and Chad, it’s about 60%.

This is not the first incident of trouble for Facebook though. Earlier this month, Facebook was also accused of encouraging grooming by offering teenage girls to middle-aged men as ‘friend suggestions’.

On the social networking site, teenage girls, who are about 13-year-old, and who join Facebook, are provided up to 300 suggestions regarding who they can add as their friends. Some of those suggestions include middle-aged men, being topless in their profile pictures.

Facebook, in its defence, has said that it has safeguards built into recommendation system.

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