Caritas S. Sudan Integrating Fight against Gender-based Violence in Activities: Official

The leadership of Caritas South Sudan is integrating initiatives aimed at fighting against gender-based violence (GBV) in regular operations in view of improving the response to the vice at the grassroots, an official has told ACI Africa.

“What we are doing is that we are actually mainstreaming Gender Based Violence (GBV) into most of our activities,” Caritas South Sudan’s Humanitarian Coordinator Joseph Pasquale told ACI Africa Tuesday, November 24.

In the interview on the sidelines of the training for Caritas South Sudan members, Mr. Pasquale said that in mainstreaming GBV, the leadership of Caritas in the East-Central African nation plans to "integrate aspects of HIV/AIDS and nutrition.”

He said that the training aimed at equipping the staff Caritas South Sudan with advocacy skills against GBV.

One of the facilitators at the training, Flora Francis, attributed most cases of GBV to cultural limitations.

“Based on my experience in South Sudan, most of the gender-based violence is related to the cultures because it gives more power to women than men; starting with the level of participation since childhood, girls suffer more than boys,” Ms. Flora told ACI Africa November 24.

She further noted that in South Sudan’s constitution, “the customary law really contradicts the penalty law especially on issues to do with a rape, which is a crime according to penalty law.”

“If you go deeper sometimes, the traditional authorities interfere when it comes to issues to do with rape,” she further said.

She explained, “According to the customary law, if the two parents of the perpetrators agree to settle the case peacefully with the family, it can end at that customary level and such are practical challenges faced in South Sudan.”

Ms. Flora decried what she termed rampant “structural/injustice kind of violence” that the members of the community consider normal, noting that the training aimed at making participants “really understand” issues surrounding GBV.

That the nine-year-old nation does not have a special law on GBV seems a major challenge in effectively tackling GBV, Paul Jenrio Solomon who co-facilitated the training told ACI Africa.

For the South Sudanese advocate, hope lies in the ratification and legislation of the anti-gender draft bill developed by South Sudan’s Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2018.

The anti-GBV training took place on the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women marked Wednesday, November 25 under the theme, “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”

The annual event precedes the start of the 16 days of Activism against gender-based violence that will conclude on the International Human Rights Day, 10 December 2020.

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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
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