In the statement signed by Archbishop Stephen Ameyu of the Catholic Archdiocese Juba alongside representatives of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan & Sudan, Sudan Pentecostal Church and the Africa Inland Church, SSCC members challenge the government to play their role and reach out to the survivors.
“It’s the responsibility of the government to provide the survivors of the sexual violence possible assistance from legal support and protection to services such as health and livelihood for them to be able to sustain themselves and live with dignity,” they say.
The church leaders add, “Commitments made by parties to the conflict especially with regards to prohibition of committing, commanding or condoning acts of sexual violence by the forces, needs to be respected and upheld.”
The church leaders further say the past years have seen “an increase in sexual violence in areas such as greater Equatoria and Unity (State) during the conflict by various armed groups.”
“Such incidents need to be condemned and authorities need to prosecute the perpetrators and hold them accountable,” SSCC members further say.
In their recommendations, the church leaders in South Sudan urge the government to “keep the implementation of the joint communique on the prevention and response to sexual violence as a priority.”
“We urge all parties to the conflict to implement the various commitment agreed upon to prevent conflict related sexual violence in South Sudan,” they say.
They recall “the joint action plan for the armed forces on addressing conflict related sexual violence in South Sudan” and urge “the South Sudan national Police service action plan to address conflict related sexual violence.”
They further call upon faith-based leaders in South Sudan to “promote acceptance of the survivors within communities and assist them in reintegration within their societies and communities with dignity and respect without further stigmatization and shame.”
“We reiterate that there is no shame in being a survivor of rape and other forms of sexual violence,” the church leaders say, and continue, “The shame and responsibility lie with the perpetrators of such abhorrent crime.”