SPLA APOLOGIZES TO WOMEN FOR RAPE, VIOLENCE
By Kidega Livingstone
Sudan’s People Liberation Army (SPLA) has apologized on behalf of the other organized forces to women for rape, robbery and continuous suffering they undergo as a result of the conflict.
Lt. Gen. Johnson Juma Okot, Assistant Chief of Defense Forces for Administration Personnel and Finance, who represented General Ajongo Mawut, the Chief of Staff said that “power sharing violence” has not given time for SPLA totrain and grill the army as well as integrate police that created negative impacts to women and the entire population.
He said SPLA knew that women had contributed a lot to the liberation of thecountry but there were some few elements in the forces who were raping women andneeded to be trained in order to be a disciplinedarmy.
“We know the contribution of our women during liberation but our politicians do not know that,it’s necessary to accept this because we came here to apologize to the women,” Lt. Gen. Okot said in a consultation meeting between the national dialogue steering committee and consortium of women’s organization with the security sector.
The meeting was held under the theme “Inclusive Dialogue for Sustainable peace and Security.
Commanders of the organized forces and a group of women from Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr-el-Ghazal regions attended the meeting.
“We the army need peace. From 2005 up to now we do not have time because of power sharing violence,” Lt. Gen. Okot added.
The deputy Chief of Defense Forces made the apology after commanders of the organized forces were asked by groups of women from greater Equatoria, Bhar-el Ghazal and Upper Nile on why there was continued fighting in some parts of the country and why women suffered rape in the hands of men in uniform.
The women also raised concerns about stopping people on roads especially Boda-Boda riders, and trucks. They questioned the police on why there were so many robberies yet police workwas to protect women..
According to Lt. Gen Okot, the army had rules and regulations that guide them but because of the wrong politics and weak constitution, some people tend to do what was not supposed to be done.
“We are privileged to come and dialogue with the women and we are going to apologize to them,” he added.The Co-Chair of the national dialogue, Angelo Beda said the national dialogue was open in order for everybody including women to point out their grievances and problems to the public.
“These women raised the issue because they don’t see peace and they are saying the organized forces are protecting them, what they raised also will end up as a resolution for national dialogue,” Mr. Bedasaid.
The Chairperson of the consortium of Women‘s Organization, Mary Kasha said they always come together as women to discuss the challenges affecting them in the region.
She said they had done a lot of analysis to see the challengesfacing women including the impact of conflict and rule of law.
“This is the beginning because we want to take this country somewhere by working for sustainable peace,”Marysaid.