National, News

GBV survivors receive case reporting skills

By Bida Elly David


Steward Women Organization, a female-based advocacy body, has offered free training to sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) and gender-based violence (GBV) survivors, focusing primarily on reporting cases of violence without stigma.

The training was also aimed at training women on how to use customary courts and the local communities to address such issues.

Richard Oneka, a senior consultant for steward women, said South Sudan still lacks a strong network that deals with cases of sexual survivors.

“In our assessment of this country, we don’t have a very strong network of sexual survivors that can speak for themselves,” he said.

Mr. Ricahrd noted that most female sexual assault victims across South Sudan face difficulties reporting cases due to stigmatization. He added that whistleblowers have been the ones speaking on behalf of the survivors.

“In South Sudan, we still have other states with no formal courts for sexual survivors to have justice. Civil society organizations (CSOs) have tried the idea of mobile courts, but it requires a lot of work,” he stated.

Richard highlighted the need for the survivors of SGBV to be empowered in order to speak for themselves through networking to clear the stigma.

“We need to bring them under one network to speak for themselves; through social empowerment, we need to produce leaders among them to speak on behalf of those who can’t be able,” he stated.

He further emphasized that creating awareness among local communities across the country, especially chiefs within customary courts will mitigate the practices.

“We would like to mobilize community leaders and chiefs to join the survivors in advocating for their rights, and we will go a long way in addressing the issue of stigmatization,” he added.

Mr. Richard underscored the need for mapping to identify the scope within which these victims can be found because the survivors have already formed themselves into smaller groups, and that will be for the network.

“To have the network, we need the survivors, the CSOs, the victim advocates, and community leaders. This will be done between now and December for the network,’’ he said.

He stated that customary courts in South Sudan have become biased, saying they handle such cases within their jurisdiction, adding that it will be unfair to other survivors who have no defending lawyers.

“There are no advocates with legal backgrounds to guide hearings in such courts; we cannot say we can’t work with them because that is the basis of justice in rural areas because we do not have courts,’’

“We need to recognize customary courts as partners improvising justice for sexual survivors; we need to advocate for inclusion for legal persons to sit with the customary courts in legal sittings,’’

He reiterated the need for capacity building in customary courts, especially chiefs, within a legal framework, saying this will help them handle such cases.

“We want to advocate ways of how local chiefs members are selected; they are more appointed based on political will or basis; real members are supposed to be elected by the community, not through political will; today, these members are more appointed,” Richard argued.

Alice Soro, a legal aid officer at the Steward Women’s Organization, urged SGBV survivors to desist from being afraid of reporting SGBV or GBV cases to legal entities.

She criticized the provision of police Form 8 requiring injuries from sexual victims, saying not all sexual crimes have visible evidence.

“The form should stand but should not be a precondition for the survivor to seek medical attention; sexual assault is torture in human terms and degrading,’’ she argued.

Alice also called for the amendment of the South Sudan penal code act on defilement, saying it should include provisions that differentiate between defilement and rape.

“We are calling upon amendment of the law on the provisions because the gravity of a pain that someone will feel for a two- or one-year-old child that has been defiled cannot be compared to a rape victim of 20 years and above,’’ she stated.

She further emphasized that they need advocates to work hand in hand with the authorities, UN agencies, and international organizations that protect the rights of girls and women in South Sudan and conduct work to handle rape cases.

Two gender-based violence survivors testified to the pain they went through after encountering the tragedy.

One of them stated that she almost committed suicide after she was raped by a man and later conceived.

“Forceful sex is more different than the one that comes through love. With what happened to me, I have decided not to see what is called a man with the suffering I faced,’’ she expressed.

“Out of the rape, I managed to deliver a baby boy. I thought of killing him due to the fact that he is a man reflecting what happened to me, but I revised my thoughts,’’ she added.

She echoed that the way men go against the law must stop.

“I can forgive because I have grown. I need us to shift from bad things to good things. We need to improve our lifestyle,’’ she agitated.

“If I am in charge of the law, I will suggest the execution of men who are caught in the act. Because of the pain I am going through, I will accept to be killed in order to bring justice to this country.’’

The second survivor mentioned a number of rapes she had seen during the journey of South Sudan towards the conflict, saying there is no law in this country that calls perpetrators to account.

“Sexual violence has not started justice now, but during the war, we survivors are even being heard by our fellow women. Many people have been speaking about sexual violence, but there has been no change,” she decried.

She added that many survivors have been asking for support and security, but nothing has been done.

“Sometimes we think of killing ourselves. Many survivors, including young girls and children, have run crazy due to such acts,” she noted.


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