News

    Women in South Sudan Face Repercussions of Violence

    Women purchase grilled chicken from a street vendor in the main Konyo Konyo market in the Juba, South Sudan, July 2011. (file photo)
    Women purchase grilled chicken from a street vendor in the main Konyo Konyo market in the Juba, South Sudan, July 2011. (file photo)
    Hannah McNeish

    “Free at last” after decades of civil war with the north, South Sudan is building a nation from scratch. As women flood to the world’s newest capital city, Juba, aid agencies say an effect of so many years of violence is that most women are unaware of their rights. One Israeli group, though, is battling to stamp out gender-based violence.

    In a crowded and sweltering room in the capital, Israeli aid agency Israid has brought together social workers and police to discuss ways of reducing what the social workers consider widespread violence towards women in the capital.

    As the social workers voice concerns about security, and talk of cases of rape and beatings that were never reported or addressed, their fears and frustrations highlight the lack of awareness by the police toward gender-based crimes.

    Learning more about gender-based violence

    The police say rape is difficult to deal with, and they demonstrate a startling lack of knowledge about how to detect a rape, whether the age of the woman is important and whether it is possible to bring the perpetrator to justice until a baby is born.

    One speaker at the session - Anna Albina Liberio - is a rare example of a female police investigator who has risen through the ranks and is winning the respect of her male peers.

    But Liberio said she has never investigated a case of gender-based violence.

    Crimes ignored, underreported

    As her superior, Colonel Tranquillo, translates, she explained why women are suffering in silence in South Sudan and why cases of violence toward women are hugely underreported.

    “She is voicing to women in South Sudan that they are capable. Most of them, they don’t know their rights, and they have no knowledge about the violence or anything concerning their rights, so the knowledge is the key to combat those crimes,” said Tranquillo.

    Tranquillo said a large number of girls living on the streets with no parents often are scared to come forward and report sexual violence to the police. He also said a lot of domestic violence is carried out at night to avoid the community’s watch.

    Israid is training a total of 45 new social workers in Juba. The agency's director for South Sudan, Ophelie Namiech, said Israel is starting in the relatively booming capital rather than the remote and conflict-ridden states because many unaccompanied women have flocked here from neighboring countries and are particularly vulnerable.

    “We realized that the problem of gender-based violence was not only extremely important here, but increasing since independence, because of migration, and because gender-based violence, we realized, was not only a weapon during the war but it's also a consequence of war - you know, traumatized people, especially with kids, girls under the age of 18,” said Namiech.

    Cultural barriers complicate matters

    Namiech said traditions and stigma surrounding violence toward women are major challenges, and that in some villages assessed by the aid agency, rape is considered “normal."

    At the country’s main hospital in Juba, social workers sit in a bare, cramped room with hospital blankets draped over desks that are bare, except for a pad and pen.

    They say that of the very few cases of rape and violence reported to the police, only when the woman’s life is in danger do they receive cases at the hospital. They say that violence toward women is common, and that raising awareness and increasing the number of social workers is key to protecting women.

    The director of gender at South Sudan's Ministry of Social Development, Lily Ismail Yudi, said the chronic lack of awareness of women’s rights makes it difficult to break the cycle of violence.

    Breaking a violent cycle

    “Due to tradition and cultures, women are not recognized as somebody who is important in the family. If she is, it will be in terms of her services only. Also, these women are not sent to school due to the culture in some areas - they consider that the girl is a source of income,” said Yudi.

    She said women usually are married off early so that the family can receive a hefty dowry of cash or cows, or are used as domestic or agricultural workers to support the family.

    “This is why by the end of the day, you can find that a girl ended up married without any education, without being exposed to any other communities, to learn about things that can help her in the future,” said Yudi.

    Yudi said she hopes that trained social workers can help make women aware of their rights, and that those women will pass the information on to their daughters, and eventually bring the cycle of violence to an end.


    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora