Tale of Magwi County GBV survivor divorced at 24

Tale of Magwi County GBV survivor divorced at 24

South Sudan is one of the countries battling the alarming vice of gender-based violence which stems from existing social challenges like poverty and stringent cultural norms.

Christine (not her real name) survived the grim experiences of gender-based violence and has lived to tell her saddening stories although nursing the emotional wounds that will take time to heal.

She stays in Juba now after a rough patch in marriage and has a big lesson to teach the younger generation and society.

Christine told The City Review that at 17, she got married to a 20-year-old at her home village in Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria State.

This was after she got pregnant at Primary Seven in 2017 and she could not proceed with her studies and therefore opted to start a family. But this never ended well. That marked the beginning of her sorrows and a series of lamentations.

“When I gave birth to my first baby boy I was living with my in-laws and my mother-in-law used to tell me that I am not fit for her son…that her son must marry another woman,” she recalled.

Fed up with the jeering, Christine* decided to enrol in adult classes where she aimed to finish her primary education.  

“I decided to join the adult school in 2018 at Magwi Central Primary School when I was still living with my in-laws then I sat for my primary living examination and passed,” she added.

Her husband, a Senior One dropout, never took this lightly. Christine then joined a secondary school in 2019 but her studies were dotted with marriage drama courtesy of her insecure husband.

“My husband used to follow me whenever I was in class, he would sit at a nearby tea place watching me whenever I moved with any male student in the school compound or when coming back home he beat me when I reached home,” she recalled.  

For her fear of shame, she held onto her marriage and never bothered to alert her parents about her tribulations.

She was then sponsored by the AVSI organisation which paid her tuition fees for the entire year in secondary education.

But this came at a price. She said that her husband divorced her and married two other wives.

“I went home I asked for forgiveness from my mum and she accepted me back home, now I am in Juba hustling and paying my child and my siblings in school while looking for money to get back to school,” she said.

Christine advised young mothers who are facing challenges and violence in their marriage to report it and implored organisations to sensitise young women on gender-based violence so that they do not suffer in silence.  

A UNFPA study estimates that women aged 15-64 in South Sudan experience GBV either physically (34.0%) or sexually (13.5%) in their lifetime and South Sudan ranks second in GBV prevalence rate in East Africa.