South Sudanese traditional culture meets Facebook

A bunch of my neighbors here in virtueland (Lincoln, Massachusetts) pull away from the virtue pack by devoting themselves to South Sudanese immigrants to the U.S. These folks don’t make the news too often, presumably due to our money-uber-alles culture (South Sudan’s per capita income, adjusted for purchasing power, is 220th out of 228 countries; each woman has an average of 5.3 children, 27 percent of the adult population is literate, and “Educational attainment is extremely poor” says the CIA).

from the Town Hall parking lot

The news blackout is over, though, thanks to Silicon Valley tech… “Child bride auctioned on Facebook in ‘barbaric use of technology'” (CNN):

An auction was held on the social media platform for a 16-year-old girl in South Sudan which sought payment for her hand in marriage.
Facebook said the post was taken down as soon as the company learned of it, but that wasn’t until after the girl was married.

According to children’s rights organization Plan International, the girl was bid on by five men, some of whom were reportedly high-ranking South Sudanese government officials

Activists are concerned that this auction — for which the father reportedly received 500 cows, three cars and $10,000 in exchange for his daughter — could inspire other families to use social media sites to receive larger payments.

Otim from Plan International told CNN that offering payments is part of the country’s culture, but that in this case it “was taken to another level because of technology.”

Natana said that this is the highest bride price that has been reported in the region. She added that NAWL is against the process of bidding because “it makes you more of a commodity instead of a human being.

Readers: What do you think? If we are not supposed to judge another culture as inferior to ours, why is it okay to criticize folks in South Sudan for using Facebook to implement an electronic version of their traditional culture?

7 thoughts on “South Sudanese traditional culture meets Facebook

  1. from the CNN article:

    Plan International’s country director in South Sudan, George Otim, said: “That a girl could be sold for marriage on the world’s biggest social networking site in this day and age is beyond belief.”
    He added: “This barbaric use of technology is reminiscent of latter-day slave markets.”

    You could pose your question to this George Otim if he ever asserted that it’s always wrong to judge any other aspect of any other culture other than one’s own. It highly unlikely that he, or anyone else, has made such a statement. So, overall, it’s unclear what the point of this post is.

    It’s also unclear what the existence of an old bumper stick that refers the the holding of a referendum in a faraway country is supposed to indicate.

  2. A lot of places still have dowries, although I’m not sure if the price/grrom is determined by auction!

    In the US which side of the family pays for the wedding? That’s basically a dowry.

  3. Its best to go to the scene than to judge base on what you here, its a cultural norm, it is a competition that is normally done in this culture of Dinka, when a girl possessed some qualities which not every girl do, this was not done on social media but jealous people who are doing the best in and out like this page and BBC are the one creating imaginations

  4. there’s nothing wrong with BBC,CNN or any other media that has stepped up on condemning such malicious and disreputableness.
    I,m a Dinka by tribe. i wonder why we talk of change and never accept realities of it context. It is clear that two issues; the age of the young girl (16) and involvement of the media (Facebook) prompted the agitation,whether by individual or media or even organisation such as plan. the move is right and appreciable.
    I come from very state formerly Lake state where this kind of practices(marriage competitions) is often and much worthy. we condemn it even in our silence. it is not only denunciation and notoriety, dehumanizing the best word one can say.
    thank you.

  5. Seems to me that it would be completely legal to auction off a child bride (say, 16yo) on Facebook in the USA, assuming the bride-to-be consents and both parents consent. What law would this break? None that I can see. Child marriage (non-coerced, with parental consent, age 16) is legal. A dowry is just a gift to the bride’s parents, nothing illegal there. Assuming the child bride is onboard, what law is being broken?

  6. When an “inferior” culture uses technology such as FB to run their lives, is that culture really inferior? And what right does FB has to blocking this from their site? Arranged marriage and dowries is a common practices among many countries. Be it done via auction on FB or via a mediator, that is how many cultures operate.

    If FB will block it, then shouldn’t, say GM or Toyota also block the sales of their trucks to Syria, Sudan, Libya, etc. simply because those trucks are used as war machines rather than for transportation?

    Here is a question you should ask your “virtueland” neighborhood: Are they OK if arranged marriages and dowries is done in the USA by immigrants? If not, what are they going to do about it to better improve the lives of those cultures and melt them into the “melting pot” of the USA? Or are they for diversity as such they will allow it? If they are for diversity, then they should be up in arms against FB for bringing down this auction.

    And before anyone objects, yes, we have immigrants who are in the USA, legally or illegally, who still perfume arranged marriages and dowries — even after generations of being in the USA.

  7. this is a lie.
    People were just posting an event that was going on in the village.
    There wasn’t any auctioning on Facebook.

    Since it was discussed on CNN it’s fake news.

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