South Sudan Humanitarian Bulletin Issue 11 | 30 November 2018
• South Sudan joined countries around the world to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
• An inter-agency mission accessed Kajo-Keji from Juba by road, for the first time since 2016.
• The Ministry of Health has declared a Yellow Fever outbreak in Sakure, Nzara County.
• Nearly 250 people were voluntarily returned to Akobo by the Bor Solutions Working Group using UNMISS helicopters.
• A delegation of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces and the SPLA-iO met near Juba and agreed to provide unhindered access to humanitarians.
The 16 Days of Activism calls to end child marriage
On 25 November, South Sudan joined countries around the world to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, as it kicked-off a series of events to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence.
In June, leaders from the across the country including Ministers, State Governors, traditional and religious leaders, civil society organizations and the United Nations agencies, made a collective commitment to eliminate child marriage.
Despite the national frameworks and international agreements, child marriage remains a prevalent practice in many developing countries, including South Sudan, where four out of 10 girls are married before the age of 18. The conflict has generated additional risks of sexual and gender-based violence, even though it was widespread before the start of the conflict in December 2013.
Speaking during the launch of the 16 Days of Activism, the Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare said: “Treating young girls as commodities that will bring fortunes to families must stop and all parties who perpetuate this practice must be held accountable for their actions – the parents who marry off their minor children, the men who marry the children, and even authorities and law enforcers who knowingly allow this practice to take place and choose not to take action.”
“Child marriage is outright wrong, yet it is deeply entrenched in the culture of the country,” said UNFPA Country Representative Dr. Mary Otieno. “I say ‘outright wrong’ because it puts at stake the very lives and future of South Sudan’s adolescent girls.” In South Sudan, 40 per cent of girls are married before 18. Only 6.2 per cent of girls complete primary school, with one out of five dropping out of secondary school due to pregnancies. The situation is exacerbated by the crisis, which has left many people in extreme poverty. Marrying off a girl child, usually to a much older man, is often seen as a source of income.
In the first half of 2018, some 2,300 cases of gender-based violence were reported with the majority against women and girls. More than 20 per cent of survivors who have come forward are children. Partners reported that the actual number of cases is far higher, as gender-based violence continues to be severely under-reported. Humanitarian and development organizations are providing psycho-social support to survivors and working to prevent gender-based violence through the dissemination of information.