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Gov’t reacts to old ‘use of women as wages in conflict’ report

Author: Obaj Okuj | Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Awut Deng Achuil - The minister of gender, child and social welfare - File Photo/Author unknown

The minister of gender, child and social welfare is urging the UN and the government of India to produce an alleged government policy that allows soldiers to rape women and girls as wages in the conflict.

Awut Deng Achuil is reacting to an old report conducted by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

On March 11, 2016, UN said in the report that the South Sudanese government had conducted a “scorched earth policy” against civilians caught up in the civil war. Read the report here: UN Report 2016.

This policy, it said, allowed its soldiers and allied militias to rape women in lieu of wages.

This report was then picked up by India Today television and several other international media houses.

At a consultative meeting attended by representatives of the civil society, faith-based organizations, lawmakers and government officials in Juba on Wednesday, Awut Deng Achuil, denied the report and challenged the UN to prove that rape is a policy.

“The government of the Republic of South Sudan has no policy that permits rape or condones it,” Ms. Deng stated.

She argued that all government policies and legislation such as the transitional constitution 2011 penal code 2008 and customary laws in South Sudan are against any form of harm against women, children and all the people of South Sudan.

“All the traditions and cultures of the Republic of South Sudan do not support rape and this it is punishable in the strongest penalty possible,” she argued.

“Therefore, we demand the United Nations and the government of India to avail us with the said policy and report.”

However, several subsequent reports suggest that sexual violence remains rampant in South Sudan.

Last year, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, told the UN Security Council that rape is used as part of a strategy to degrade, shame and humiliate both the victims and communities often along ethnic or political lines.

“Sexual violence has also been used as a driver of forced displacement, and as a tactic and weapon of war by all the parties to the conflict,” Ms. Pattern added.

The military court in Juba has of late been tackling rape cases involving its soldiers.

Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, sexual slavery is a war crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts.

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