South Sudanese girls held over light skin

Friday August 26 2011

By Mabior Mach

Sudanese authorities are holding three South Sudanese girls suspected of being Sudanese Arabs over crossing to Africa’s new country because of their brown skin, officials have said.

The girls were allegedly rounded up by the Misseriya militia in Mayrem on their way to South Sudan and bundled into a truck that headed to a police post, a local administrator said.
The administrator said because of their brown skins, the girls were mistaken for being northern Arabs despite their pleas that they were South Sudanese.

South Sudan’s ruling party confirmed the incident, saying that their investigations reveal that the girls were raped.

“The girls were mistaken for northerners because they used cosmetics to lighten their skins,” said Yen Mathew, the spokesman of South Sudan’s ruling party that partnered with the northern government in a 2005 peace deal that ended the decade-long devastating civil war in the region.

The peace deal ended with the independence of South Sudan on July 9. The girls have been under detention in Mayrem for nearly two weeks so far. The three girls could not be reached for comment.