I have always felt like being born female is one of the world’s wonders but in a horrible way. I am always encouraged and told I can be anything I want but how practical is that? to have a dream which is not all just a dream? When girls are snatched out of school by communities that see them as assets, their main source of wealth? When and whom she marries is a communal decision, not hers?
When older men sexually exploit her, her family convinces her that she is lucky to be wanted by a “responsible” man who will in return take care of her and her family. “You don’t have to worry about your education, he’s going to take you back to school after,” they tell her and all other lies she’s told to crush her dreams. They are so terrified of what she can accomplish that she must be tamed before she learns to fly for when she does, she will be unstoppable and impossible to control and own In a country where 52% of girls are married before they turn 18 years old. What is this dream, marriage? Perhaps to be anything I wish would be a dream come true only if I continue to sleep.
Education is a basic need and a human right but in a country with the worst girls’ education indicators in the world, it is a privilege to finish even just primary level of education. Many high school girls like me are robbed of their childhood, exposed to all forms of sexual and gender-based violence including death when they dare to resist.
We are taught to look up to our brothers, fathers, uncles, male relatives, the community leaders, and the government for protection but all the violence and abuse girls experience in South Sudan is perpetuated by the same people and institutions. I used to pray that may God touch the hearts of our parents, the wild men, and the community elders who are constantly destroying our dreams and hopes. But then I realized that no amount of praying can put an end to all this suffering. There is nothing I can do that can fully guarantee my security and safety.
We must raise awareness so our communities understand that girls too are human beings who can do everything the boy child can do if given the same opportunities. Once our communities know better, it will be reflected in the shift of attitudes and improvement in the laws and policies. The burden of being safe should not be put on young girls who are the victims and powerless.