Photo credit: Human Rights Watch
Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)
2013 marked the first year that UNICEF provided data on child marriage in South Sudan, Africa’s newest state.
52% of girls in South Sudan are married before their 18th birthday .
High levels of poverty, conflict, instability, low levels of literacy and gender gaps in education fuel child marriage in South Sudan. Girls and families often feel that they are escaping poverty by marrying young.
Many South Sudanese communities see child marriage as a way to protect girls from pre-marital sex and unwanted pregnancies. Families also marry off their daughters in exchange for a bride-price or other much-needed resources such as of cattle. 
South Sudan’s lack of a strong legal framework, along with poor enforcement of existing laws, means that perpetrators are rarely bought to justice.
In February 2017, the Ministry of Gender, in collaboration with UNFPA East and Southern Africa, launched a taskforce to end child marriage. The taskforce is said to be developing a roadmap to end child marriage under the leadership of the Ministry of Gender. 
Members In South Sudan
 UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2016.
 Human Rights Watch, “This Old Man Can Feed Us, You Will Marry Him”, Child and Forced Marriage in South Sudan, 2013.
 UNFPA South Sudan, tweet, 22 February 2017.