Football and cultural performances used by Morobo women to advocate for eliminating sexual violence in armed conflict

unmiss south sudan conflict-related sexual violence women peace security united nations un peacekeeping peacekeepers

Football, cultural performances, and a commitment to ending conflict-related sexual violence - these were the main themes of an UNMISS-organized event in Morobo, Central Equatoria. Photo by Taban Geofrey Koma/UNMISS

28 Jun 2022

Football and cultural performances used by Morobo women to advocate for eliminating sexual violence in armed conflict

Taban Geofrey Koma

CENTRAL EQUATORIA – “While Morobo is relatively safe for women, there are still reports of rapes from surrounding areas” revealed Mary Dudu Ariunzi, a resident of Morobo county in Central Equatoria, South Sudan

Mary was speaking at a dialogue organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, which is annually commemorated on 19 June.

The focus of the event held jointly by the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Human Rights Division and the Women’s Protection Adviser: To raise awareness on the disproportionate impact of violence on women and young girls, plus lobby for an end to conflict-related sexual violence.

“It’s an important event and an important Day to mark in Morobo because it sends a powerful message to all communities—sexual violence is not acceptable and must never be used as a weapon of war,” stated Arthur Beingana, a Human Rights Officer with UNMISS.

“Such sensitization is critical for all communities to understand that everybody has a role to play in protecting women and young girls. It is a collective effort,” he continued.

A football tournament between female students from St. Charles Lwanga Primary School was part of the event and ended in a draw.

For Jackson Baker, Executive Director of Morobo county, there is much joy in seeing girls play sports.

“Girls are the future of this country, and we must encourage them in every possible way to achieve their dreams. When I see these young girls play football, I am struck by their team spirit. It is our duty to help build a safe, secure environment where their potential can flower,” stated Mr. Baker

Cultural performances by community members also enthralled the 500-strong audience.

Conflict-related sexual violence continues to be pervasive in South Sudan as this young country navigates the difficult journey from war to peace.