4th August 2020
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Activist slams security officers for allegedly “freeing” rape suspects

Authors: Emmanuel Joseph Akile | Charles Wote | Published: Friday, July 3, 2020

Riya William, Executive Director of Crown the Women at a webinar discussion on Thursday 2, 2020. PHOTO// Facebook/Riya William

An activist has blamed some security organs for allowing suspected perpetrators of rape to flee from detention centers.

Riya William says civil society groups have received several reports of suspects being let out of prison without a court ruling.

According to the UN Mission in South Sudan, hundreds of women have suffered extreme cases of sexual violence, including gang-rape and sexual abuse of minors with impunity since 2013.

In Yei River County, a member of the national parliament told Eye Radio that between March and April this year, 19 women were raped by soldiers in Lasu, Otugo, Rubeke and Libogo areas.

Most of the recent incidents have taken place in the capital, Juba, the seat of the national government.

In May, an 8-year-old girl was reportedly gang-raped by 3 young men and dumped outside her home in Juba’s Gudele suburb.

The girl’s mother was put under gunpoint, while her daughter was taken away.

In the same month, a 58-year-old woman was also raped and killed in Jenderu area in Juba.

Days later her body was found dumped in the same area.

Riya William is the Executive Director of Crown the Women, a civil society organization.

She said many of the perpetrators of these acts of violence go unpunished because security organs collude with the criminals to set them free.

“One of the perpetrators of the rape case was arrested but when we asked the police we were told that well the guy escaped from prison,” she said -without elaborating which prison or prisoner.

Riya was speaking during a webinar discussion on Gender, Peace and Security in South Sudan organized by the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa hosted.

“We are not going to allow even children that we shall bear to be raped [because] our leaders are silent,” she added.

Last year, the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission stated that sexual and gender-based violence including rape, abductions and conscription of child soldiers in South Sudan increased in the past years.

These incidents ignited outrage among women activists who peacefully marched to the office of the Minister for Gender, Child and Social Welfare in May demanding action.

But Riya stated that when women and girls organize peaceful demonstrations against rape and sexual violence in South Sudan, the security organs often threaten them.

“In the night of organizing and preparing for a protest, someone called and said that the National Security is going to come and stop the protest and that [they] only have live bullets and that the women will be shot because any gathering will be considered as political,” she said.

“[But] everything in this world is apolitical, even our bodies are political. So when someone says any gathering is going to be considered as political, hell yes, our bodies are political.”

Last year, the Chief Justice Chan Reech Madut announced plans to establish special courts that will handle crimes related to Gender-based Violence in the country, but the plans are yet to materialize.

But observers say little has been done by the government to address cases of rape and other sexual gender-based violence in South Sudan.

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