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Women and Girls Experience Widespread Rape in South Sudan

More than 100 women and girls were raped over a 10-day period this past November in South Sudan. This widespread rape in South Sudan has led Doctors Against Borders to speak up against this unspeakable terror.

“Women and young girls have been coming to the MSF clinic in Bentiu en masse over the past week after
surviving horrific episodes of sexual violence,” stated Ruth Okello, a midwife for the aid agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF). “Some are girls under 10 years old and others are women older than 65. Even pregnant women have not been spared from these brutal attacks.”

South Sudan has been involved in civil conflict since 2013. With hunger and violence being widespread across the country, 4 million people have been driven from their homes. The country’s president, Salva Kiir, signed a peace agreement with rebel leaders in September to end a five-year civil war that killed 400,000 people, but it is not apparent if the agreement will hold or not.

These assaults occurred as more groups of displaced people traveled through Rubkona county in an attempt to find food distributions in the area. Although women and girls traveled with larger groups, they were still confronted by groups of attackers.

One 18-year-old survivor told the Associated Press about her experience with the violence. “My body hasn’t been the same since. I was crying and screaming but I was so far from the village that no one could hear me.”

“In more than three years of working in South Sudan, I have never seen such a dramatic increase in survivors of sexual violence arriving at our programs looking for medical care. We treated 104 sexual and gender-based violence survivors in the first 10 months of this year, and we have assisted 125 survivors in the past week alone,” stated Okello.

The attacks were reported in Northern Liech State, where the state minister for information, Lam Tungwar, is denying that these events happened. He told Reuters new agency, “a rape of such a magnitude is not true. We are a state (that) respects human rights and women’s rights top our list.”

Tungwar went on to add that if acts of violence such as rapes did occur, they would be dealt with in local courts.

In addition to rape, MSF explained that women were being whipped with sticks and rifle butts, having their possessions (such as clothing and shoes) stolen and having their ration cards destroyed, making access to food even more difficult.

Another woman, Nyalgwon Mol Moon, recalled being held at gunpoint by two men dressed as civilians. Her clothing and the milk she was planning on selling were stolen from her. Since then, she has had to take alternate routes when walking to the capital to avoid this violence.

An end for this rampant violence against women has been called for by the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, David Shearer.

On the violence, Shearer stated: “Here in South Sudan, women and girls have suffered immensely because of the ongoing conflict. I’ve spoken to many of them who have been subject to sexual violence including rape. This must stop.”

Featured Image by Karthikeyan K on Unsplash

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