Sexual Violence rages through South Sudan as Civil War Continues

women in South Sudan must face deplorable levels of sexual violence despite humanitarian efforts women in South Sudan must face deplorable levels of sexual violence despite humanitarian efforts United Nations

16 September 2015
Women in South Sudan have suffered deplorable levels of sexual violence in the last two years of civil war.

As South Sudan’s civil war continues, civilian women have become targets of ethnic warfare, as well as suffering atrocities such as rape, abduction, forced marriage and murder. Both parties of the conflict have been confirmed of committing serious violations of international humanitarian law, including rape and other forms of sexual violence.

Reports of gang rape have been common throughout the civil war, which began in December 2012. Other atrocities, such as pregnant women being cut open, have also been reported. Thousands of women have been abducted from their homes, including young girls as young as 12 years old. Survivors have reported being taken from their homes, persecuted and hunted as they fled their villages.

In late April, South Sudan’s government forces launched a military campaign in Unity State, where the sexual violence has been most prominent. Human Rights Watch has documented 63 rapes in Bentiu, a city in the Unity, but predicts that many more have taken place. Survivors from Bentiu told HRW that women who refused, or were not “good enough” as sexual partners, were shot. Other women were publicly raped in front of villages or their families. Young girls were forced to marry while elderly women were often killed.

Though the number of victims is still unclear, Zainab Hawa Bangura, the United Nations special representative on sexual violence in armed conflict, declared Bentiu the worst cast of sexual violence in 30 years. South Sudan’s humanitarian efforts continue, but even in the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) base in Bentiu, women report feeling vulnerable to sexual violence and a sense of being unsafe.

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