June 19, 2021 (JUBA) – South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) has urged all parties and stakeholders to observe International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.
“Acts such as rape, sexual slavery and forced marriage are crimes under South Sudanese laws and are inconsistent with teachings and principles of Christian faiths,” SSCC said in statement extended to Sudan Tribune.
“Parties to the conflict in South Sudan made commitments to protect civilians, especially to prohibit their respective forces to commit, command or condone acts of sexual violence,” it adds.
South Sudan laws provide for protection of women and girls from sexual abuse and exploitation, gender-based violence, including rape, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
The statement emphasizes that there is no shame in being a sexual violence victim.
“Families, communities and institutions must acknowledge the suffering endured by all survivors of conflict-related sexual violence instead of viewing them with suspicion or judgment,” it noted.
“Stigma related to sexual violence exacerbates and protracts the harm of the violence with at times lethal consequences.”
According to the statement, survivors of sexual violence in the world’s youngest nation often face rejection, isolation and abandonment from their spouses, families and communities.
“Everyone must uphold the sacredness of human life, the inherent dignity of every human being as well as their physical and mental integrity as reflected in the teachings and values of the Christian faith,” further stressed the statement.
Founded in 2013, SSCC is an ecumenical body comprised of seven member churches and associate churches in South Sudan with a strong legacy of peace building, reconciliation and advocacy.