A senior UN official in the country has said that there will be no peace unless the rights of women are actively protected and promoted. He said this while addressing a conference called to deliberate on the National Action Plan on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, in Juba.
The UN resolution recognizes that the rights of women and their safety, engagement and empowerment are crucial to peace building and recovery, and reaffirms the critical role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, and stresses the importance of giving women an equal voice and participation in the promotion of peace and security.
“Unless we actively promote and pursue the rights of women, and indeed that of all citizens, there will be no lasting peace,” said Eugene Owusu, UN Resident Coordinator for South Sudan.
He decried the fact that sexual violence was one of the most pervasive violations of human rights in the world, one of the least prosecuted crimes, and one of the gravest threats to peace and development.
He said that the number of reported cases of rape and sexual violence against women and girls had increased since fighting broke out in Juba in July this year. He urged all South Sudanese to join the fight against sexual violence against girls and women.
“We have to do much more to end these horrible incidents and to end the culture of impunity that allows such horrendous violence to persist,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Ewusu said sexual and gender based violence was a crime against humanity which knew no ethnic, social or economic boundaries. He said the act undermines the health, dignity and personal security of the victims.
He commended the government of South Sudan for demonstrating commitment to deal with the issue, citing the recent joint communique issued by President Salva Kiir and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
The agreement would enable the development of an Action Plan to ensure that the security sector has in place clear orders preventing sexual violence, and ensure the timely investigations of, and accountability for crimes of sexual violence.
He castigated men who use culture as an excuse for violating the rights of women.
“I find it appalling when sometimes some of us try to hide behind culture to justify sexual and gender-based violence,” he said. “There is no African culture that I know of that condones the brutalization of its women and girls in the name of culture.”
The theme of the meeting was ‘Addressing Impunity on Sexual and Gender Based Violence in South Sudan’. It was attended by the minister for Cabinet Affairs, Dr. Martin Elia Lomoro, and the minister for Gender, Child and Social Welfare, Madam, Awut Deng Acuil, and other senior government officials.