, 15 October, 2020 / 7:17 PM
Perpetrators of gender-based violence (GBV) in South Sudan are going unpunished, a situation that a Catholic medic in the East-Central African nation has condemned, calling on law enforcers in the nine-year-old country to ensure that the offenders are brought to book.
In an interview with South Sudan local media on Thursday, October 15, Dr. Edwin Ivan Obore of St. Theresa Mission Hospital in Torit Diocese said that weaknesses in law enforcement in South Sudan was denying GBV victims justice.
“The police need to start taking serious action against perpetrators of gender-based violence in this country because most of the cases end up going back to the community for failure by the law to take its course against offenders,” Dr. Obore told Radio Emmanuel of Torit Diocese, one of the nine radio stations that constitute the Catholic Radio Network (CRN) in South Sudan.
He added, “By strengthening the law and having offenders in prison, people will know that what they did was wrong.”
Highlighting cases of GBV at St. Theresa Mission Hospital, he said, “Most of our patients, when reporting and recommending them, do not go back to the police and for those who went to the police, nothing has been done.”
Dr. Obore explained that in most cases, police advise survivors and perpetrators to resolve issues traditionally, a situation he said does not necessarily ensure that justice is served.
In South Sudan, GBV is one of the most critical threats to the protection and wellbeing of women and children, according to UNICEF.
GBV is common in the Torit area, the South Sudanese doctor revealed, saying cases are highly unreported due to fear of revenge, shame and even being looked down upon by communal members.
“Even though the victims come, they will deny and not tell you what exactly happened during the abuse,” he said and added, “Later when we try to investigate, you may discover that the woman was hurt by the husband or husband by the wife.”
The South Sudanese medical doctor appealed to the humanitarian agencies and nongovernmental organizations in the world’s youngest nation to support initiatives aimed at ending GBV in the country, including those registered at the health facility where he works.
Expressing optimism, he said, “In future, if we get the required funds, we will definitely recruit some staff for the GBV unit for us to be able to deal with GBV activity separately from other diseases.”
He added, “I call upon the NGOs in our country to support our GBV unit with funds in order to deal with cases, to be able to create a separate unit to deal with GBV.”
The Catholic health professional expressed optimism that once people know their rights, they will be able to report the cases and follow them to the point when justice is served.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa