Lack of rape report doesn’t mean no GBVs: SSWEN
Executive Director of SSWEN: Mrs. Paleki Matthew Obur
By Sworo Charles Elisha
Some civil society organizations say the fact that rape cases have not been reported does not mean no sexual violence had taken place during the July 2016 conflict in Juba.
Speaking to journalists in Juba during the launch of a five-year strategic plan 2016-2021, the Executive Director of South Sudan Women Empowerment Network SSWEN,Paleki Matthew Obur said many organizations are documenting cases of Gender-Based Violence GBV in the country.
“The fact that people have not reported [cases of sexual violence] does not mean that such incidents have not occurred. So in terms of documentation of sexual violence it is ongoing from various organizations all over the country,” Mrs.Paleki said.
She said there is need to create a safe space for women to speak boldly about sexual violence that they might have encountered in the country.
“So what is really important here is having a safe space. A safe space is not only the responsibility of civil societies to lobby for but when the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing is formed, there are certain guidelines they have to meet so that women can speak out,” Paleki said.
“They have to be gender sensitive or gender responsive in their set up so that women can speak up.”
The SSWEN director said talking about transitional justice is important because it would provide hope for peace, justice and reconciliation, which will change the mindset of war among South Sudanese.
“It provides hope for people to look forward for a brighter tomorrow. It changes the narrative that South Sudan is all about conflict that no South Sudanese can actually talk about reconciliation, mending the social fabric about justice and fighting the culture of impunity,” she said.
Meanwhile the acting coordinator for the Transitional Justice Working Group, Rev. James Ninrew said change of heart and mind through advocacy would create an understanding on the importance of justice, reconciliation and healing among the South Sudanese.
“What is lacking is education andthe rule of law. The breakdown of the rule has enabled everybody to take the law into his/her hands. This is what we want to reverse. As soon as we reverse that, everybody willlearn to be accountable,” Rev. Ninrew said.
He said a continuous education and awareness is needed for South Sudanese to understand and makethe concept of transitional justice a culture among themselves.
“This is a long process that will not happen in one day. It needs a persistent education until it becomes a culture where we respect each other,” Ninrewsaid.