A teenage girl in South Sudan was auctioned off for marriage with the help of Facebook and the social media giant did not take down the post for days after they were alerted -- after she was already married to a much older man, The Associated Press reports.
The 17-year-old girl was auctioned off for 500 cows, two luxury cars, $10,000, two bikes, a boat, and several cell phones, according to the report. The highest bidder was a man three times the girl’s age who already had eight wives. At least four other men submitted bids, including the state’s deputy governor.
"She has been reduced to a mere commodity," Philips Anyang Ngong, a human rights lawyer who tried to intervene in the bidding, told The AP, calling it "the biggest test of child abuse, trafficking and auctioning of a human being."
Child marriage continues despite ban: South Sudan has a long history of paying dowries for child brides and even though the practice has been banned in the war-torn state, 40 percent of girls are married before they turn 18, The AP reported.
Facebook blamed: According to the report, it took days for the social network to remove the post after it was reported.
"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," Plan International South Sudan head George Otim told The AP.
The AP notes that the auction was discussed on the site but not carried out on Facebook.
Government defends: "You can't call it bidding as if it was an auction. It's not bidding. If you see it with European eyes you'll call it an auction," South Sudan government spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told the AP. "You have to see it with an African eye, as it's a tradition that goes back thousands of years. There's no word for it in English."
"Some families want children to marry in their countries and in their ethnic communities, but most do it if the kids are misbehaving," Esther Ikere Eluzai, the undersecretary for South Sudan's ministry of gender, explained to the AP.