GENDER ALERT: Girls are not sex objects – they are humans
Women and girls in South Sudan continue to bear the brunt of conflict through brutal acts of sexual and gender-based violence since the start of the current civil war on December 2013.
As recent as late November 2018, there has been an influx of young women, girls and boys as young as 4 years old who have been raped, gang raped and beaten. Additionally – in recent reports by a number of organizations, it was reported that between November and December 2019 – at least 120 women were raped by armed men. The extent to which the bodies of women and girls have been used as combat zones for conflict is dismal – further illustrating how the normalization of deeply rooted sexual violence has eaten away at masses. With such a grim picture, the country’s structures have broken down which has created a huge gap in all the relevant sectors and services responsible to address sexual and gender-based violence.
In Wau – where SIHA is working actively, women and girls living in the area continue to experience severe sexual violence, exploitation, abuse and harassment in the present-day conflict. For the world’s youngest nation, rape and other forms of violence continue to be used by armed state and non-state actors, in what seems to be ethnically-targeted rape against women and girls who are incessantly subjected to various gender inequalities, social norms and practices that have discriminated against them even before the outbreak of the war.
SIHA upholds that violence against women and girls (VAWG) is a grim human rights violation and a significant global health and security issue. Several studies conducted by SIHA Network as part of a larger civil society suggest that the rates, perpetrators and types of VAWG fluctuate during conflict; and there is evidence that sexual violence against both women and men increases during conflict.
SIHA calls out these atrocious acts, committing to break the silence on sexual violence whilst empowering South Sudanese young people, men and women to realize their rights. Over the years, SIHA has been working closely with grassroots-based coalitions, strengthening the capacity of local civil society organizations in the Horn of Africa region, building regional solidarity for advocacy and protection against sexual violence.