Civil society groups in Sudan have demanded the government take action after reports surfaced that a four-year-old child was married in March this year.
The SEEMA Center, which campaigns women and children’s rights, said that the four-year-old and her 16-year-old sister were both married in the village of Babnosa in the southern province of West Kordofan.
The group wrote to the justice minister, attorney general and secretary general of the National Council for Child Welfare on Wednesday, demanding the marriage of the four-year-old to be annulled, and that of the 16-year-old to be reviewed.
The group called their demands “one step as part of the broad efforts to end child marriage”.
The letter also included recommended urgent legal amendments in order to criminalise child marriage.
Sudanese human rights groups have previously succeeded in pressuring the government to annul marriages of young children on a case-by-case basis.
Seema did not give any other information about the marriages or the ages of the spouses.
There are no legislation in Sudan that prohibit child marriage. The country’s Islamic laws rule that once a child is ten, they can marry with the permission of their parent or guardian.
According to UNICEF, 34 percent of girls in Sudan are married before the age of 18, and 12 percent are married before they turn 15.
Sudan has pledged to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
However, the practice remains widespread in rural areas, particularly in Sudan’s southern provinces where poverty levels are high and girls face challenges in accessing education.