South Sudan: Women at UN base Targeted for Sexual Violence
Monday, August 04, 2014 8:30 AM

Women sheltering from civil war at a UN base in South Sudan are extremely vulnerable to sexual violence every time they leave to forage for firewood, food or charcoal. Due to the ongoing war, over 40,000 people are living at the UN base in Bentiu, South Sudan, which is surrounded by groups of soldiers from both sides in the conflict. These soldiers prey on women who leave the camps to provide for their families, often targeting the women based on their tribal ethnicity. Even in the UN compound, women fear attack, as most male family members are dead, fighting or lost.  

According to Senior Advisor to South Sudan’s Ministry of Gender, Child, and Social Welfare, Lydia Stone, "[r]ape and sexual assault are being used on a mass scale as a weapon of war." A UN report released earlier this year supports this view, documenting “horrific” levels of sexual violence against women committed by fractured and undisciplined South Sudanese rebels and government forces.

South Sudanese women find it difficult to speak about rape or seek help due to cultural and social pressures that tend to blame the woman for the crime and which often blight a woman’s future prospects in her community. However, the prevalence of violence is so high, more women are willing to talk about what has happened to them. The UN is trying to map dangerous areas outside the base, to allow peacekeeping patrols to protect women more effectively. Other suggestions include providing stoves, fuels, and job opportunities to women, so that they could remain inside the camps. However, South Sudan has not received sufficient financial aid to fund these solutions. 

Compiled from: Patinkin, Jason, Rape stands out starkly in S. Sudan war known for brutality, The Christian Science Monitor (July 27, 2014).