More need to be done to curb GBV in the country

By Milly Bayi Nyuga

Gender Based Violence (GBV) in our society is still a challenge with cases of rape, defilement being reported to authorities.

Earlier last week, three sexual abuse cases were consecutively handled by the GBV Court in Juba including two defilement cases and one rape case.

GBV refers to harmful acts directed at an individual based on their gender. It is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power and harmful norms.

The national constitution states in articles 16 and 17 the rights of women and girls in this nation including,

“Women shall be accorded full and equal dignity of the person with men.” 16 (1).

“every child has a right not to be subjected to exploitative practices or abuse, nor to be required to serve in the army nor permitted to perform work which may be hazardous or harmful to his or her education, health or well-being;” 17 (d).

“Not to be subjected to negative and harmful cultural practices which affect his or her health, welfare or dignity;” 17 (g).

The GBV Court is doing well in awakening the minds of the people especially in relation of protecting women and girls from all forms of abuse from the men, but more joint effort is needed to totally end gender based violence .

Also, other organizations and humanitarian partners in the country are supporting the response to GBV as contained in the country’s Humanitarian Response Plan.

In a press release by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), it states the support rendered by organization in curbing the GBV.

“These include the establishment of 10 women and girls’ friendly spaces that provide access to social support, skills training, safe and non-stigmatizing multi-sectoral GBV response services, and information on issues relating to the health and rights of women and girls affected by humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.”

Those are some of the strategies implemented by UNFPA, in partnership with the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Health and with support from donors such as the Government of South Korea, supports the response to and prevention of GBV in South Sudan through various approaches.

Sexual and gender-based violence remains one of the prevalent human rights issues in South Sudan, emanating from the protracted armed conflict, where the use of sexual violence and the brutalization of women and girls have been well documented.

In displacement settings, threats and risks of GBV against women and girls persist particularly sexual violence, growing levels of intimate partner violence, sexual exploitation, harassment, and early and forced marriage. In the first three quarters of 2020, the Gender-Based Violence Information Management System (GBVIMS) reported more than 6,000 cases of GBV, where 97 per cent of the survivors were women and girls.

“UNFPA also supports 11 one-stop centres for GBV survivors across the country, providing integrated medical, psychosocial and legal services under one roof. At the onset of the COVID19 pandemic in South Sudan, UNFPA supported setting up the national GBV hotline 623, which provides round the clock access to GBV survivors to call in and seek psychosocial first aid, referrals and legal guidance.” The statement also stated.

However, a lot more needs to be done by African governments and the AU’s human rights institutions to improve access to, and quality of, health care, ensure victims of human rights abuses get the justice they deserve and that abusers are held to account. African governments should co-operate fully with the International Criminal Court on relevant cases and investigations. And carrying through with African justice initiatives such as South Sudan’s Hybrid Court and the Central African Republic’s Special Criminal Court would be big steps in the right direction.

On 3rd December 2020, the GBV Court was launched in Juba to handle violations of human rights based on gender especially against women and girls in Juba. It is estimated that one in three women will experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime.

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