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Mark Paulino Mangu-Radio Anisa
Friday, December 14, 2018 - 13:54
Gender inequality in favor of men remains one of the main cause of Gender Based Violence, or G-B-V, against women in Yambio, the Capital of Gbudue State South Sudan. This is according to Suzan a single mother and farmer.
 
Despite efforts by the Government, Civil Society organizations and other partners like the United Nations to combat the practice, GBV especially in the form of physical assaults, Sexual harassment and rape still occurs in the region. 
 
Women and girls are the primary victims of GBV in the region. And experts say there is a spike in violence around the Christmas season. When men fail to provide their partners with holiday gifts, they often resort to violence to cover up their shame. 
 
According to a Psycho-social counselor at Change Agency Organization, domestic violence among couples is prevalent in Yambio. 
 
Grace Ezekiel Paite reveals that many men beat their wives, in some cases beating them to death. She also revealed that 14 rape cases have been reported to her office this past year. But she suspects the number of unreported cases is much higher. 
 
‘‘The statistics for rape I have seen this year is 14. But when you go to the hospital, it’s higher than that. The consequences of GBV on the society includes divorce and the kids sometimes become street children with no access to education. If a woman is raped, she will develop infections if not treated on time. Psychological complications are also possible’’
   
Margret Zereda works as a psychosocial worker at the Yambio Hospital in the Special protection Unit. She says many patients she sees are survivors of GBV.
 
 ‘’we normally receive survivors, we give them psychosocial support and refer them to the main doctor for medical checkup. We have received many cases mostly female, but I cannot give you the exact number because we are still compiling our report for the year’’ Margaret added.   
 
But despite this medical care, women who face GBV do not have enough support to defend their rights. And men always seem to have more power.
I spoke to a 32-year-old lady, in Yambio named Margaret.
 
She was married to a police man and they had a baby girl together. She says he abused her often, so she decided to leave him. Then he took everything she owned. 
 
 ‘’I moved to my husband’s house with all my properties. My goats, ducks chickens and household items. In his house, he abused me continuously. When I decided to end the relationship, he took everything including my three Bicycles, goats, ducks and one motorbike. Some people advised me to kill him. But on a second thought I have left the issue to God for his intervention’’ she adds. 
  
Howe Suzan Mbaraza is a sungle mother gardener in Yambio. She urges couples to avoid physical violence because when they fight, their children can imitate the same behavior, causing GBV to be transferred to future generations.
 
Suzan say the youth in Yambio need more guidance on how they can live as responsible people in the society.
 
 ‘’People need information. If we have people to come out and talk to them about the disadvantages of their behavior, it will help them to reform. The reason why it is happening is there is lack of information. I always think it’s our responsibility as elders and as parents in the community to talk to our children because when we don’t talk to them, they will continue to use violence to solve their problems instead of using dialogue’’. 
 
She notes that, poverty and the prolonged conflict in the country are adding to cases of GBV. She adds that some harmful cultural beliefs also contributing factors to gender inequality, such as: seeing girls as assets, not wanting women to work and not allowing women to own properties.
 
South Sudan is currently observing the global campaign of 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence. But the Gbudue state police commissioner says there is a still long way to go in combatting the practice.
 
Major Gen.James Monday Enocka reveals that from January to September this year there were about 93 recorded cases of Gender Based Violence.
 
Out of those cases, only 49 of the perpetrators have been summoned to the court to face trial. He adds that although women are more often the victims, men are also victims of GBV sometimes.
 
Monday says one way to help combat GBV is for people to report the cases to authorities. 
 
 ‘’We are handling them, but the challenges are many. When the cases are not reported to the police, what do we do? You can have the best hospital and doctors, but if the sick patient doesn’t go to the hospital, she will never get treated. The same with the police, we need people to report the cases because we know how to handle them. Sometimes the cases are reported to the wrong people like the military and the national security just because they are close to the Market’’ James ended.
 
According to article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), it prohibits torture, cruel or in human and degrading treatments as a form of punishment against each other.
 
Also Articles 16 and 18 of South Sudan’s Transitional constitution of 2011 says ‘’women shall be accorded full and equal dignity just as men’’. It also says ‘’No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’’.
 
But in a country deep rooted in culture and traditions that sometimes do not favor women and girls, ending the practice of GBV is still a big challenge.
For CRN news, this is Mark Paulino Mangu reporting from Yambio.  
This story is produced with support from Journalists for Human Rights JHR promoting media in South Sudan. 
 

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