Mr Joseph with his daughter at Loreto Girls School- Rumbek Lakes, South Sudan
  • Mr Joseph with his daughter at Loreto Girls School- Rumbek Lakes, South Sudan

A 48-year old man from Rumbek Lakes State in South Sudan received the recognition from Loreto Girls Secondary School for his commitment to postpone marriage and allow his daughter to complete education. Joseph Maker Mading, an accountant with the State Ministry of Finance, received a Certificate of Courage for resisting to marry off his 14-year old Deborah Adut for 90 cows after his brothers and other family members fought physically with him. When the uncles of 14 year Deborah came home one fine afternoon last December with the intention to marry her off for 90 cows, her father strongly resisted it to the point of enduring physical violence. He hid young Deborah at Loreto Girls Secondary School where she is a Senior II student. “My brothers fought with me for rejecting ninety cows. They no longer come to my house and consider me mad” Mr Maker said. “I am not at all against my daughter’s marriage, but I want to educate and prepare her future first” He added. Majok has taken all his ten daughters to school. Fourteen-year old Deborah Adut thanked her father for accepting to suffer violence for her to continue education. She said her father was the only person who struggled to protect her when the uncles came home last December with the intention to marry her off by force. And thus on Women’s Day, the 76 women at Loreto School gathered around their hero to say thank you for saving one girl from early and forced marriage. The School Principal Sr. Orla Treacy presented a certificate of courage to Mr. Joseph Maker Mading for his commitment to girl child education. The School matriarch from Poland beamed ‘There is no better way to celebrate women’s day than to celebrate the man who made a courageous act by committing himself to the education of his daughter’. Early and forced marriages are rampant in South Sudan especially among pastoralist communities who still view women as source of wealth. Often times, girl- child education is considered a wasted venture. An estimated six in ten girls enrolling for primary education hardly make it to secondary school because young girls are married off as early as thirteen years for huge number of cows. Even with the legislation that protects children in place, the implementation of the law has not yet come to fulfilment. Parents have the power to decide when and who they want their daughter to marry.

Topic Human Rights
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We cannot fight for our rights without the support of men and so amidst all of these inspiring stories of women standing up for their basic rights, it is so wonderful to hear about a man doing the same. This story is heartwarming and incredible on so many levels. The gift he has given his daughters is not only the gift of an education but also the gift of respect, the gift of knowing they are valued, and the gift of a strong male role model they can look up to.

Thank you again for sharing Joseph's story with us and if you speak with him again, tell him that women around the world are celebrating his courage.