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APO International

Stakeholders in Jonglei Reaffirm Pledge To End Sexual Violence

todayJune 28, 2024 4

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On the recent International Day for the Elimination of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), local authorities and civil society representatives in Jonglei State came together to manifest their collective commitment to hold perpetrators of these crimes accountable.

At the event, organized by the peacekeeping mission, emphasized the importance of protecting keeping community members, particularly women and children, safe. Those in attendance also paid tribute to survivors of sexual violence and people who have, successfully or not, tried to stop these crimes from being committed.

“We will further strengthen our judicial system to increase accountability and encourage the reporting of this kind of incidents when they take place,” said Atong Kuol, Acting Governor of Jonglei State, who appealed to citizens not to stigmatize survivors of sexual violence, as this harmful cultural practice strongly discourages bringing these crimes to the attention of the police and other relevant authorities.

While commending security forces for their hard work to protect civilians, Geetha Pious, Head of the UNMISS Field Office in Bor, observed that crimes, of a sexual nature or not, are showing no signs of decreasing.

“In our region, the increasing violence and widespread nature of abductions being used as a weapon of war is a major concern. The proliferation of arms has destroyed the social and economic fabric of some communities, eroding values of compassion, humaneness, and kindness in the process,” she said.

The taboos surrounding rapes and other forms of sexual violence mean that information about such traumatic incidents must be kept strictly confidential to protect survivors’ dignity and standing in their communities.

Health workers are among the extremely few people who need to be aware of what has happened to their patients. Unfortunately, details sometimes leak, with devastating effects on already shocked girls and women, who are often the ones being subjected to sexual violence.

This point was stressed by Lual Monyluak Dau, Minister of Health in Jonglei State, who issued a stern warning to doctors and nurses.

“Those found in violation of breaching confidentiality will face legal consequences,” the Minister stated.

A cruel irony illustrating the devastating impact of gaps in the justice system, not least between traditional mechanisms and formal courts was brought up by activist Elizabeth Ayen.

Rape can lead to intercommunal conflict and loss of life.

“When traditional justice mechanisms are used, rapists are often ‘rewarded’ by becoming married to the person they have assaulted. This practice sends wrong and dangerous signals,” she stressed.

Stakeholders agreed that sexual violence is not only an unfathomable personal trauma for survivors but can also be the direct cause of intercommunal violence, thus putting countless of people’s lives at risk.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

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