“I reported my case to the SPU and the police officers on duty attended to me calmly and my statements were obtained. I was very pleased that my choice was respected because I did not want to pursue a case in court against my husband, nevertheless, I requested for family mediation,” said Amnyo Grace, 25, who received support at the Torit Special Protection Unit in November.
“I am glad to say that my home is fully settled, besides, my husband has changed positively. He no longer abuses me emotionally at home. However, I have learned that if my husband continues to misbehave, I should always speak up and report to the SPU desk for quick intervention,” she continued.
Gender-based violence is a major concern in Eastern Equatoria State, affecting women, men and children. Negative impacts of GBV on survivors can be vast, leading to psychological challenges, physical harm and disability, depression, and in some cases, death or suicide. Women and girls have been disproportionally impacted and are particularly vulnerable due to the nature of the conflict in South Sudan.
According to the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, gender-based violence, including rape and gang-rape, remain a central characteristic of the conflict, in instances amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Despite progress made in some contexts, the overall persistence of discriminatory structures and practices in the security sector create considerable challenges for establishing effective and responsive institutions. This not only results in the violations of the rights of girls, including denial of education and increasing the risk of unwanted pregnancies and maternal mortality, but also increasing inter- and intra-communal conflicts putting women and girls at the centre of violence and insecurity
The presence of Special Protection Units in eight (8) counties in Eastern Equatoria State aims to create a link between police and local communities in combatting these crimes and responding to the needs of survivors. Access to justice is a basic principle of rule of law and the multi-dimensional support provided to victims via the Special Protection Units are one step to address endemic levels of gender-based violence in South Sudan.
“This is a good starting point for the Torit SPU and municipal police officers to start pushing the culture of ‘speaking up and reporting cases of GBV and not die in silence’ in the mind of young girls at early stages of their lives,’’ said Betty Konyo, a GBV desk officer at the Special Protection Unit, during the mentorship session conducted on 11 November 2020.