Survivors Speak in South Sudan
Updated: Oct 20, 2021
Along with the Centre for Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice (CIGPJ), Dialogue and Research Initiative (DRI) and Remembering the ones we Lost (ROWL), all members of the Transitional Justice Working Group in South Sudan, Rights for Peace has organised a "Survivors Speak" Conference taking place on 24 September 2021. During this unique event, survivors of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) in South Sudan will sit around the table with officials to talk about the medical, psychological, social, economic, and other impacts the specific violence has had on their lives. They will also make recommendations relating to the transitional justice process in South Sudan, presenting their key messages and priorities.
This event also launches our findings following 9 months of research and collaboration with partners in South Sudan. Please read our Fact Sheet on the Status and Opportunities for Reparations for Survivors of Conflict Related Sexual Violence here.
Our findings show that there is a widespread need for urgent medical and psycho-social attention following CRSV. Social impacts are devastating, including routine stigma and victim-blaming . Survivors state that people distance themselves and think they "did it willingly". The attitude of men and husbands of survivors is problematic. Many survivors are abandoned or ill-treated by their husbands. In addition to neglect, mistreatment and physical abuse of both survivors and children born of rape by family members is commonly reported. Shockingly, mothers recount murders or attempted murders of babies born of rape by family members. They mention suicide or attempted suicide and repeatedly suggest adoption for these children, stating that there is no future for them, or that "they would be better dead".
In recent months the Ministry of Justice has established a Task Force and Technical Committee to coordinate the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms, with a particular impetus behind the establishment of the Commission on Truth, Reconciliation and Healing outlined in Chapter V of the R-ARCSS. In light of these recent developments, it is crucial that civil society is able to discuss issues that affect them, and that survivors’ voices are strengthened, given credence, and allowed to genuinely shape the conversations and processes surrounding transitional justice in South Sudan. A survivor-centred approach is critical to ensuring that recommendations provided by the CTRH consider victims’ rights to a remedy and reparation. We look forward to engaging with South Sudanese survivors, partners and other stakeholders going forwards, with the hope of making the implementation of reparations a real possibility.