Sexual violence against women & girls on rise in South Sudan

AS donors and governments gather in Olso, Norway this week to discuss how best to respond to the conflict and looming food crisis in South Sudan, a new report from CARE warns of a worsening wave of sexual violence against women and girls.

The Girl Has No Rights: Gender-based Violence in South Sudan reveals that more women and girls are engaging in sex in exchange for food or water for their families; parents are marrying their daughters early for a bride price and to reduce the number of mouths to feed; and rape and sexual assault have become a weapon of war.

CARE Australia’s Gender in Emergencies Advisor, Isadora Quay has just returned from South Sudan and said conditions have deteriorated since fighting broke out on December 15 last year.

‘Even before the current conflict, South Sudan was one of the world’s harshest environments to come of age as a woman. The impact of the conflict on women and girls is horrifying. Women have been tied up, raped and then shot. They have been attacked in hospitals and churches where they fled seeking safety
with their families. There is no safe place for a woman today in South Sudan.’

The CARE report examines widespread social norms and practices that result in the vast majority of girls in South Sudan being denied an education, where a young woman’s worth is routinely measured in cows, and pressure that sees survivors of rape suffer in silence, often foregoing medical and psychological support as well as legal remedy.

Ms Quay said, ‘CARE is providing food, water and sexual and reproductive health services to people left homeless by the conflict and to those who have fled across the border to neighbouring Uganda. As donors and governments meet in Oslo today, we are urging all parties to immediately address the issue of sexual
violence.

The Girl Has No Rights calls for donors to increase investment in and support to prevent sexual violence and support survivors, including training health professionals, social workers and educators to identify and respond to sexual violence survivors with medical assistance, psychological support, and/or
referral services – all of which are currently in short supply in South Sudan.’

CARE’s Kjell Stokvik, who is attending the Oslo conference today, said if the conflict continues, nearly half of South Sudan’s population will be displaced or suffering from hunger by the end of the year.

‘Thousands more people will die from violence, and some of the most vulnerable women and girls will suffer in silence unless the world acts. Rape and sexual violence leave scars on a community that remain long after the end of a conflict. This has to stop now,’ he added.

To donate to CARE’s Global Emergency Fund, visit www.care.org.au

CARE Australia is an international humanitarian aid organisation fighting poverty, with a special focus on working with women and girls to bring lasting change to their communities. www.care.org.au

Source: CARE Australia

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Ryan Fritz

Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities with another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years of experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities.

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