Child brides from Nigeria are being advertised and sold on Facebook, according to a report published Thursday by The Daily Beast.
Girls as young as 10 years old, known culturally as “money women” or “money wives,” are sold to much older men in exchange for money or traded goods. While the tradition of child brides far predates the era of social media, some argue that Facebook has made the marketing of these young women very easy and widespread.
The Daily Beast examined this practice and its prevalence in the Becheve community of Nigeria, where the number of brides a man has reflects his wealth and status.
“The practice is meant to boost the status of the men in Becheve community,” Magnus Ejikang, a chief in Ogbakoko, told The Daily Beast. “The more brides you have, the more respect you gain in the community.”The article emphasizes the fact that this practice, and Facebook’s role in it, is not limited to just Nigeria, but spans across Africa, with one recent case involving a young girl from South Sudan. The girl’s father allegedly discussed the sale of his daughter with five separate bidders, some of which were reportedly senior officials in the South Sudanese government.
The girl was reportedly sold by her father to one of the Facebook bidders for 530 cows, three Land Cruiser V8 cars and $10,000. Facebook did take action to remove the post advertising the girl, but by that time, the girl had already been sold and made the 10th wife of Kok Alat, a wealthy South Sudanese businessman. (RELATED: The Reality Of Sex Trafficking At The US-Mexico Border)
A representative from Facebook reportedly told the Daily Mail in a statement that, “any form of human trafficking — whether posts, pages, ads or groups — is not allowed on Facebook and we remove this content whenever we identify it.”
“We’re always improving the methods we use to identify content that breaks our policies, including doubling our safety and security team to more than 30,000 and investing in technology,” the representative continued.
Queen Eteng, a researcher at Nigerian women’s rights group “Our Women Network,” says that the fathers of trafficked girls find out how to use Facebook through their sons who are more savvy on social media than they are. (RELATED: Texas Mother In Custody For Selling Young Children)
“The majority of Becheve men knew nothing about Facebook until their sons and other young relatives began to show them photos of young Becheve girls on the platform,” Eteng said.
“Most fathers don’t run the Facebook pages opened in their names,” she continued. “Rather it is younger family members who create the pages and post the photos.”