A coalition of women activists and some men staged a peaceful protest on Friday demanding an end to impunity for rape and violence against women and girls in the country.
The women’s march was sparked after Eye Radio reported the rape of an eight-year-old girl in Gudele-a Juba suburb, a week ago.
The minor was gang-raped by three young men after putting her mother under gunpoint.
The survivor is still receiving treatment at Juba Teaching Hospital.
The incident ignited outrage among women activists who peacefully marched to the office of the minister for gender, child and social welfare demanding action against such acts.
“As women, we continue to wittiness horrific cases of sexual violence towards us,” said Riya William, the executive director of Crown the Women Organization.
“We stand in solidarity with all the women and girls experiencing this violence. It is a heartbreaking reminder of a difficult time women and girls go through, even with peace now.”
She urged the government to ensure justice is served for the victims of sexual assault across the country.
“We a group of women activists is collectively demanding that the government leaders and decision-makers to commit to our demands, we demand justice for the 8-year-old girl that was raped and for many other women and girls who have not received justice.”
Responding to the demands, Minister of Gender Child and Social Welfare – Aya Benjamin vowed to ensure that the three rapists, who allegedly gang-raped the eight-year-old girl are brought to book.
The minister added that her institution will soon launch a special court for Gender-Based violence to address issues of sexual assault and other forms of violence against women.
“As a ministry, we are going to launch a special court for GBV, and this is going to take care of special cases of GVB,” the gender minister said.
“Together with other sister ministries, we will work together to see that justice is done. To all South Sudanese, today it is that little girl, tomorrow it could be you or me or our daughters, we know that 98 percent of such cases are girls and women, though there are 2 percent men especially boys.”
Minister Aya emphasized: “Men outside there put yourself in the shoe of that little girl’s father. It can’t continue like this. All of us should work together to make sure that anybody who has committed such crime should be taken to court. The law must take its course, nobody is above the law and I mean nobody is above the law.”
Last year, the Chief Justice Chan Reech Madut said plans were underway to establish a special court to handle crimes related to Gender-based Violence in the country but the plans are yet to materialize.
According to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, since the outbreak of civil war, hundreds of women have suffered extreme cases of sexual violence, including gang-rape and sexual abuse of minors with impunity.
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