The United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan on Monday published a 48-page report describing a hellish existence for women and girls caught in areas of conflict fuelled by systemic impunity.
According to the report, widespread rape is being perpetrated by all armed groups across the country, often as part of military tactics for which government and military leaders are responsible.
The report found that these attacks were not random opportunistic incidents, but usually involved armed soldiers actively hunting down women and girls.
“Rape carried out during attacks on villages were systematic and widespread,” the report said.
“Sexual violence in South Sudan has been instrumentalised as a reward and entitlement for youth and men participating in conflict. It serves as a means of building ethnic solidarity to mete out retribution against perceived enemies,” it said.
While presenting the report in Geneva on Monday, Commission chair Yasmin Sooka said:
“It is outrageous and completely unacceptable that women’s bodies are systematically used on this scale as the spoils of war. Urgent and demonstrable action by authorities is long overdue, and South Sudanese men must stop regarding the female body as ‘territory’ to be owned, controlled and exploited.”
Barney Afako, a member of the Commission, said it was scandalous that senior officials implicated in violence against women and girls, including cabinet ministers and governors, were not immediately removed from office and held accountable.
The meeting was attended by representatives from South Sudan’s Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. The government has not officially responded to the report. (Source: BBC)