Awareness-raising campaign needed for rape victims and women in general in Yei

Awareness-raising campaign needed for rape victims and women in general in Yei South Sudan

Access to health facilities in the Yei area has become severely limited because of multiple cases of looting and vandalism.

20 Dec 2016

Awareness-raising campaign needed for rape victims and women in general in Yei

Sokiri James/Filip Andersson

John Abayi, a Clinical Officer at the Yei Hospital in Yei River State, says that since September the hospital has received seven victims of rapes and gang rapes, committed either by uniformed people or by other criminals. Unfortunately, victims often arrive too late for medical treatment to be effective. Awareness on how victims should proceed need to be raised.

In an ironic twist, the fighting-induced limited access of villagers to Yei town has led to a decline of reported rape cases in November and December, according to Mr. Abayi.

Because of the ongoing armed conflict in the area, all health facilities in the villages surrounding Yei have been ransacked, vandalized or burnt to ashes.

Mr. Abayi believes that many rape cases in the area go unreported, owing to the victims’ being traumatized and fearing the stigma commonly associated with being the subject of sexual violence.

“Some of the fears are cultural, as the married women fear that the revelation of rape to their husbands would subsequently lead to divorce, as the husbands will not tolerate hearing about it,” he said.

Voice for Change, a local non-governmental organization operating in the town, makes sure that victims of sexual violence who do come to the clinic receive emergency contraceptives, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and antibiotics.

Mr. Abayi, however, says that all too often, victims arrive too late for the PEP treatment to be effective. For PEP to work well, the treatment has to begin within 72 hours of the occurrence of the sexual assault.

“Awareness-raising campaigns to prompt rape victims to speak up and report in a timely fashion rape cases is paramount to the success both of their treatment and of accountability and justice for the perpetrators,” he said.

While urging victims of rape to report the acts they have been subjected to is vital for the police to be able to pursue the perpetrators, the Yei River State Advisor on Peace and Security, Jackson Ambugo, argues that women in general need to be educated on what to do should they themselves become the unfortunate victims of sexual assaults.

“More focus should be placed on encouraging all women to come up and talk freely about what happens to them rather than focusing only on actual victims,” he said.