UN: S. Sudan Doing Little to Stop Rape, Sexual Violence

| September 18, 2018

U.N. investigators have accused South Sudan's government of failing to address an epidemic of sexual violence and rape. The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan reports few cases are ever investigated or prosecuted.

The three-member Commission submitted its findings to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva after returning from a recent mission to South Sudan where it heard testimonies of wanton killings and numerous accounts of brutal sexual violence.

Commission Chair Yasmin Sooka said in Yei County, commission members were told government soldiers had abducted and raped women and that many women who gave birth after being raped abandoned their babies because of the stigma attached.

"Women in South Sudan have been treated by government soldiers and armed actors to the conflict including local militias as spoils of the conflict," she said. "They also experience sexual violence during inter-communal violence between rival ethnic groups clashing over land and cattle and live with the threat of sexual violence on a daily basis which is fueled by the lack of accountability and justice for these crimes."

A study last year by the Global Women's Institute and the International Rescue Committee found two-thirds of women and girls in South Sudan have reportedly experienced violence at least once in their lives.

Sooka said the plight and suffering of South Sudanese women and girls can no longer be ignored. She said they deserve justice and compensation, as well as medical treatment and counseling for the trauma they have endured.

She said the failure to punish the perpetrators of serious crimes leads them to believe they can continue to commit horrific acts with total impunity. And she warned sustainable peace in the country will not be possible without justice and accountability for serious crimes.

South Sudan's Minister of Justice and Social Affairs Paulino Wanawila Onango said his government does not condone violations of human rights and improvements have been made in this regard.

He said special protection police units have been set up, and 30 police officers, mainly women, are being trained to investigate cases of sexual violence and to counsel victims.

Source: Voice of America

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