According to the United Nations (UN) Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, widespread sexual violence against women and girls in conflict is fueled by systemic impunity.
This data is based on interviews conducted with victims and witnesses over several years; the Commission’s new report describes a “hellish existence for women and girls”, with widespread rape perpetrated by all armed groups.
As per the UN Commission, sexual violence has been considered as a reward and entitlement for youth and men participating in the conflict.
The goal is to impose maximum disturbance of the fabric of communities, including through their constant displacement, the report continues.
And in Africa, rape is often used as a part of military tactics for which the government of Africa and their military are the main culprits, either due to their failure to save these acts or their inability to punish those involved.
According to Yasmin Sooka, Chair of the UN Commission, “It is excessive and completely unacceptable that people use women’s bodies on this scale as the spoils of war.
Calling for critical and demonstrable action by authorities, Ms Sooka said: “South Sudanese men must stop regarding the female body as ‘parts’ to be owned, controlled and exploited.”
Survivors of sexual violence have described “staggeringly brutal and prolonged gang rapes” perpetrated against them by multiple men, often while their husbands, parents, or children were forced to watch helplessly.
Women of all ages narrated being raped multiple times while other women were also being raped around them. A woman raped by six men said she was even forced to tell her attackers that the rape had been “good”, threatening to rape her again if she refused.
According to the commissioner of the UN that the resulting traumas “ensure the destruction of the social fabric.”
Traumatised for life
The report also describes women often bearing children due to rape and notes that in many cases, survivors have contracted sexually transmitted infections, including being infected with HIV.
Following rape and pregnancy, women are often left by husbands and families and left penniless. Some of those raped while pregnant, have suffered miscarriages.