As South Sudan joins the International community for the campaign against gender-based violence, more than five rape victims are treated every day in the Juba teaching hospital, a doctor has said.
This year, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is marked under the global theme: “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, and Collect!”
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November and runs until 10 December on Human Rights Day.
According to the World Health Organization, globally, one in three women experience either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence during their lifetime.
In South Sudan, cases of gender-based violence are widespread.
According to the ministry of gender child and social welfare and the UN Population Fund, the number of cases reported during the coronavirus pandemic has significantly increased.
Eye Radio has been reporting disturbing stories of women and girls being raped in Juba and other parts of the country.
Dr. Samuel Legge is the head of Gender-Based Violence at Juba Teaching Hospital.
He told Eye Radio there is an increasing number of rape cases across the country.
This came after two girls aged 4 and 13 were hospitalized at the hospital on Monday [9 Nov] after they were sexually assaulted.
Dr. Legge says the hospital receives between five and seven rape cases every day.
“There is a rise in the cases of GBV, we normally receive 5 to 7 cases per day,” Dr. Legge said.
“We have seen bad signs of the increases, and bad signs of the increases are teenager girls coming with pregnancy. This is where we are talking about 20 cases all that involves rape and GBV.”
“Most of these 20 cases are pregnant cases and they are below 17 years old teenagers,” he concluded.
A toll-free national helpline number 6-2-3 was also established to support the survivors of gender-based violence in the country.
Dr. Legge urges victims of rape to report to the hospital to prevent contracting diseases and unintended pregnancies.
“If such kind of things happen to you, though you don’t want to report the case to authorities, please you come to medical services,” said the head of Gender-Based Violence at Juba Teaching Hospital.
“You will get preventive from getting an infection like HIV and Hepatitis and unintended pregnancy because if you don’t report, you may not know that you are eligible to become pregnant.”
Lina Sity, a nurse at the Gynecology Department in Juba teaching hospital also told Eye Radio that cases of rape are widespread in Juba.
“Issues of rape have become very rampant, in a day we could receive more than five cases of rape those are mainly old women, teenage girls, and pregnant mothers,” Lina said.
“An old woman died at Juba Teaching Hospital last month after being gang-raped. There are many rape victims who have lost their lives as a result of excessive bleeding.”
“As doctors, we give rape survivors “Preps” drugs to protect them from unwanted pregnancy and contracting diseases such as Hepatitis virus, HIV Aids and sexually transmitted diseases,” Lina added.
Josephine Chandiru is the Program Director of Steward Women.
She told Eye Radio in an interview that gender-based violence cases are rampant in South Sudan because of poverty.
“GBV is mainly driven by poverty because many people live in abject poverty,” Josephine said.
“Another driving factor is lack of education about the dangers of GBV which makes GBV rampant in our society today,”
“In regard to poverty, major of youth are idle which make indulge in crimes like the gang rape and robbery,” she added.
“Another major factor is that perpetrators are not punished. All these factors make GBV cases more prevalent in our society,” Josephine said.
According to Josephine, rape has very negative consequences on children since they learn such violence from family members.
“We need to educate and raise awareness about the dangers of GBV by giving live examples. There is a need to hold perpetrators accountable and this will reduce the rate of crimes,” Josephine concluded.
Some of the citizens who spoke to Eye Radio called for accountability and severe punishment for rapists.
“All the perpetrators are supposed to face law by serving life imprisonment as a lesson to other people,” said Makor Nyiel from Bor.
“Whoever commits rape should be stoned to death,” another Moses Kwaje said.
“The government should enact strict laws that hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes, a capital punishment would end this recurrence rape phenomenon,” said Sarah John.
United Nations Human Rights Commission report indicates that rape survivors continue to suffer physical injuries and psychological trauma. It mentioned that the survivors do not have immediate and adequate access to healthcare
Based on the recent report by UNICEF, 65% of women have suffered violence in South Sudan.
It says this percent is not covering cases that have been recorded during the covid19 pandemic.
Observers also claimed that little has been done by the government to address cases of rape and other sexual gender-based violence in South Sudan.
According to the Penal Code, 2008 whoever commits an offense of rape upon conviction shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years and may also be liable to a fine.
But perpetrators of rape and GBV largely remain unpunished.
Last year, Chief Justice Chan Reech Madut declared plans to establish special courts that would handle crimes related to gender-based violence in the country.
The plans are yet to materialize.
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