Tag Archives: Sexual violence

Sexual Violence is Off the Charts in South Sudan – But a New Female Head Chief Could Help Bring Change

PHOTO: Navi Pillay (third from right), UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, poses for a group photo with South Sudanese women from Jonglei State who shared stories about their experiences with human rights violations, including violence, child abduction, and forced marriage. UN Photo/Elizabeth Murekio

By Rachel Ibreck, Goldsmiths, University of London

A woman was recently elected as a senior chief in South Sudan – a not unheard of, but very unusual occurrence. This surely a positive change in a country ravaged by civil war and attendant sexual violence.

Rebecca Nyandier Chatim is now head chief of the Nuer ethnic group in the United Nations Protection of Civilians site (PoC) in Juba, where more than 38,000 people have sought sanctuary with United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) peacekeepers. Her victory is of symbolic and practical importance.

South Sudan’s chiefs wield real power, even during wartime. They administer customary laws that can resolve local disputes but also reinforce gender differences and inequalities, to the advantage of the military elite.

So could a female chief work towards changing this? Admittedly, even if the new female chief is determined to effect change — which remains to be seen — the odds are against her. The chief and her community are vulnerable, displaced persons, living in a sort of internal refugee camp, guarded by UN peacekeepers. Fighting and atrocities have continued outside, especially in the devastated homelands of the Nuer people. But the new chief has the support of the former head chief and a group of male paralegals, who have celebrated her victory as an advance for gender equality. Together, they might make a difference.

Continue reading Sexual Violence is Off the Charts in South Sudan – But a New Female Head Chief Could Help Bring Change

Gender-Based Violence is Grossly Under-reported According to New Report

A new report, funded in part by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health, found that gender-based violence in the developing world is being under-reported by 11 – to 128 fold. The data that was used to make these findings were from health systems and police reports.

The paper, “Tip of the Iceberg: Reporting and Gender-Based Violence in Developing Countries,” analyzed data from Demographic and Health Surveys from 24 countries revealed 93,656 women as survivors of GBV. The researchers discovered that only 7 percent of women globally who are survivors of physical or sexual violence report GBV to formal sources, including legal, medical, or social support services. Additionally, disclosure of GBV to family, friends, or neighbors of the victims was low (37 percent). In 20 of the 24 countries studied, the majority of women told no one at all.

“Our results confirm that the vast majority of women who have experienced GBV remain uncounted,” said Dr. Palermo. “The research further indicates that not only are most survivors not receiving formal services, but they are not receiving informal support from friends and family members.”

Based on the reported data Dr. Palermo believes dedicated centers should be created where women can be treated physically and mentally for gender-based violence. These independent centers will likely paint a clearer picture about global gender-based violence statistcs instead of women being afraid to come forward and keeping the data skewed.

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