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WOMEN, CHILDREN Rights violators must face justice, Awut

By Moses Gum Degur

The Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare in the Transitional Government of National Unity has said that those who violate women and children’s rights will be punished.

The Minister gave this stern warning while officiating over the launch of the legal provisions relating to gender equality, sexual violence and Gender Based Violence (GBV) on Wednesday in Juba.

A local organisation, Human Rights Initiative with support from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organised a one-day forum at Juba Land Mark Hotel to sensitize legal practitioners on the importance of the rights of women and children in a bid to end GBV and abuses.

Speaking during the opening session, Minister Awut said there was need for recognition of women and children’s status in the country. She also called for the need to respect their rights.

She urged South Sudanese masses to stop domestic and GBV against women and children, cautioning that anyone reported guilty of abusing the rights of these most vulnerable groups (women and children) will be punished by the law.

“Women and children are always victims of gender-based violence. They are subjected to abuses such as rape, torture and other forms of violence. If anyone is found abusing women and children, he or she will be arrested and persecuted and even fined for the criminal act,” Awut warned.

She said women have the right to live free of fear and that government will devise measures to protect women and children, especially young girls in order to protect them from any forms of violence. She added that women must be accorded equal rights, respect for their dignity as human persons—equally with men.

She pledged her ministry’s commitment to empower women, give them equal opportunity to participate in public life, and urged the public to report any forms of human rights abuses to the government in order to bring to end “impunity for crimes against women and children.”

Taban Romano, the Executive Director of Human Rights Initiative Organisation, said violence against women and girls was one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world because most women and girls had been experiencing physical or sexual abuses during conflicts.

He said GBV undermines the human dignity, and sometimes made the victims suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies and also contributed to the danger of sexually transmitted infectious diseases among them, HIV/AIDS.

He said as a result, concerned people must seek redress to the situation the vulnerable groups: women and children were faced with and provide them with legal rights.

“We are today launching the pocket guide relating to gender equality, sexual and gender-based violence to end the culture of impunity against women and children. This guide will act as a law to support groups that have no access to justice,” Mr. Romano said.

He said his organisation would continue to monitor with a view to report on any eventuality of gender-abuses, and will help empower women, address the physical and emotional consequences of GBV related cases.

Mr. Romano further said Human Rights Initiative Organisation will promote the right of all women and girls to live free from violence and abuse in the country.

During the four-year conflict, women and young girls have been subjected to abuses such as rape and other forms of sexual assaults, often from alleged men in uniform.

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