Youth and women in Yambio participate in human rights training given by UNMISS
“I am finally clear on how we, as concerned citizens, can report on human rights violations and sexual or gender-based violence. I am definitely going to pass on this learning to my neighbours,” says Melado Martha, a member of the Anika Women’s Association in Yambio, Western Equatoria.
Martha was speaking at a two-day workshop organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on monitoring and reporting human rights violations in the state.
The two-day forum brought together some 40 young women and men, religious leaders and civil society organizations.
“We noticed as part of our regular interactions with local police stations that cases related to rape or sexual abuse of women were increasing,” reveals Albert Maurice Mugabushaka, a Human Rights Officer working with the UN Peacekeeping mission. “We immediately realized that we have to train community members to monitor the human rights situation within their neighbourhoods and among their extended social circle. This is how they will be able to report and advocate for remedies and make a positive change,” he adds.
During the interactive sessions, participants were trained on the UNMISS mandate, basic human rights principles, provisions contained within South Sudan’s transitional constitution on upholding human rights, plus reporting on and preventing sexual and gender-based violence.
“As a human rights activist, I can confidently say that such trainings are vital for us to be able to report violations in a timely manner and ensure that women in our communities are safe from any abuse,” stated Lucy Jinaba, an activist working for the Young Women’s Christian Association.
While establishing the Gender-Based Violence Court and the anti-Gender Based Violence bill are amongst the few positive developments that strengthens prevention of sexual abuse and rape in South Sudan, much more remains to be done.
For community leaders such as Elizabeth Samuel who preside over customary courts in remote Nabiapai, however, empowering and educating people remains key.
“As a chief and a customary court judge, I hear cases related to gender-based violence almost every day. This workshop has empowered me with necessary knowledge on how to handle such cases in my community,” she averred.
Recent analyses has revealed a need to ramp up prevention measures with regard to sexual abuse of women. Cultural practices such as child marriage have been a major contributor to the continuing scourge.
“In Yambio, many cases involving violence against women go unreported. There are severe challenges also in ensuring that perpetrators, when caught and detained, receive due punishment. These are issues of massive concern to us,” revealed Margret Modong Joshua, a Gender Affairs Officer with UNMISS.
Ongoing intercommunal violence in Western Equatoria has also contributed to a spike in abuse or violence against women as well as human rights violations.
This workshop was jointly facilitated by the mission’s Human Rights Division and Communications and Public Information Section.