Social media can be used for all sorts of cool things these days – from simple info sharing, to liking, loving, laughing, crying to building networks outside of ‘in real life’ spaces and feminist hashtag activism (read: #ThisGirlCan, #EverydaySexism, and of course, #Metoo). What if I was to say that the Zuckerberg empire and multi-billion social media conglomerate, Facebook, was actually a ‘Modern day slave market’? You’d think I was exaggerating, right? But according to children’s rights organisation, Plan International, Facebook has recently devolved into exactly that and Plan International are calling on the South Sudanese Government to investigate a Facebook auction that led to the forced marriage of a seventeen-year-old girl.
Country Director of Plan, George Otim, made the following profound statement: This barbaric use of technology is reminiscent of latter-day slave markets. That a girl could be sold for marriage on the world’s biggest social networking site in this day and age is beyond belief.’
And I have to agree. Child marriage is a serious violation of human rights and a form of violence against girls. When social media is used to sell girls like objects with little to no repercussion, should we really let Facebook off the hook just because of its heightened ‘popularity’?
However, positivity comes in the form of a different type of face in this issue. A collection of dolls with facial and body features of African and Caribbean children have been issued to encourage black girls to embrace their natural beauty. Caroline Hlahla and Khulile Vilakazi-Ofosu, have recently launched a collection of Albino dolls called Zuri (Swahili for ‘beautiful’) and have exciting plans to launch a new black doll with vitiligo name Ndanka (meaning ‘I am beautiful’ in Shona. Check out the duo’s kickstarter here .
‘Every child deserves to see themselves in the toys they play with’ has become the duo’s mission statement. It’s time to face the truth: no girl deserves to be treated as an object, but their lives should reflect the freedoms and positivity that they are entitled to.
– Junior Editor
Girl News International