Survivors of Sexual Violence “should not be stigmatized”: Church Leaders in South Sudan

A poster for the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. Credit: Courtesy Photo

On the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict marked June 19, Church leaders in South Sudan have urged citizens not to stigmatize victims of such abuses.

In a Sunday, June 19 statement obtained by ACI Africa, members of the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC)  say, “Sexual violence in conflict remains an area of concern in South Sudan.”

SSCC members say “acts such as rape, sexual slavery, abductions and forced marriage” that are “rampant” in the East-Central African nation “are inconsistent with teachings and principles of Christian faiths and against the laws of the country.”

“Survivors of conflict related sexual violence should not be stigmatized,” they say in their two-page statement, and add in reference to survivors, “Their families, the communities they live in and the various institutions must acknowledge their suffering and not victimize them further.” 

The church leaders in South Sudan call for support for the “innocent children” saying, “Those who have children born as a result of the sexual violence must be supported and their innocent children not discriminated against.”


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.

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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.”


“There is need to recognize the role of the youth, civil society organizations and community leaders in supporting survivors, and addressing the stigma faced by survivors and creating awareness on their rights,” SSCC members say in their June 19 statement.

They add, “We urge all Churches and the Church leaders to extend their support and assistance to survivor of sexual violence, raise awareness for their rights and against stigmatization faced by them and their families.”

Patrick Juma Wani is a South Sudanese journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. Patrick holds a Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication from Makerere Institute for Social Development (MISD) in Uganda. He has over 7 years of extensive experience in leading the development and implementation of media, advocacy, communication and multimedia strategy and operations, with an excellent track record of editorial leadership, budget management, and stakeholder outreach. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.