National News

End sexual violence, partners appeal

By Oyet Alfonse

Partners have made a passionate plea for immediate end to rampant Gender-based Violence (GBV) in South Sudan.

Speaking yesterday in Juba at the launch of the 6 Days of Activism Against GBV, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Eugene Owusu, said: “No matter which prism one looks through, gender-based violence is a gross violation of individual’s dignity and their human rights and a serious obstacle to the country’s development.”

“Not only does violence against women and girls have negative consequences for those who suffer it, but crucially it adversely affects families, the community and society at large,” he added.

Since the beginning of the crisis in December 2013, GBV has been a major protection concern in South Sudan. Myriad forms of violence have been reported across the country, including widespread rape, demands for sex for food and safe passage, sexual slavery, widow inheritance, early and forced marriage, forced recruitment and abuse of children, and intimate partner violence.

The Gender-Based Violence Information Management System (GBVIMS) recorded more than 2,000 incidents of GBV from January to September 2016.

However, humanitarian partners believe that the reported incidents represent only the tip of the iceberg due to the stigma and retaliatory violence often associated with reporting GBV and survivors’ limited access to reporting mechanisms and services.

Intimate partner violence is the most commonly reported form of GBV, accounting for nearly half of the incidents recorded by GBVIMS in 2016. Different forms of sexual violence (rape, sexual assault, forced and early marriage and sexual slavery) were the second most reported types of GBV.

More than one in five cases of GBV reported to humanitarian partners involved sexual violence, mainly perpetrated by armed actors. Women and girls who are displaced face heightened risks of sexual violence, particularly by armed actors, with rape used as a weapon of war throughout the conflict.

During the outbreaks of fighting in Wau in 2016 February and June and Juba in July, hundreds of women reported being subjected to rape and gang rape.

There have also been reports of attacks in Bentiu, Leer, Malakal, Yambio and other locations across the Equatorias, including abductions and rapes. These attacks often occur at armed checkpoints.

There have also been multiple reports of sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls who leave Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites to gather firewood and food. Armed attacks that damage health facilities and the presence of armed actors in hospitals often prevent survivors from accessing life-saving interventions, including post-rape treatment.

Observed from the International Day to End Violence against Womenon 25 November through 10 December, Human Rights Day, numerous events have been organized across South Sudan as part of the 16 Days of Activism, a campaign aimed to raise public awareness to end the violence against women and girls.

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