Female lawyers demand special courts to try rape cases
South Sudanese women lawyers have appealed to the government to establish special courts in the states to address the rampant cases of sexual abuse.
The call comes after the Special Court in Juba registered over 2,000 cases of rape and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in 2021 alone.
Federation of Women Lawyers of South Sudan said an estimated 15 percent of the women have fallen victims to rape and 45 percent have suffered physical sexual violence. The women said most cases of rape and GBV have not been reported.
Jackeline Nasiwa, a representative of South Sudan female lawyers said there is a need for the government to establish special courts in some big towns in the states arguing the move would help try the criminals who prey on vulnerable women.
She was speaking during a national workshop that brought together women representatives from media houses, law firms, and government institutions.
Ms. Nasiwa said there has been an ineffective reporting and investigation on victims of rape, defilement, and physical violence.
She said about 2,403 rape and defilement cases and 2,140 GBV cases were reported in the Special Court in Juba alone according to data collected by the Federation of Women Lawyers of South Sudan.
“We have been advocating for Gender-Based Violence court and it was established in Juba. Now we need the special court to be taken to the states to address sex-related issues because it is very rampant in rural areas,” Nasiwa said.
“We need also to create the awareness for the women in the rural areas because they do not know about court [cases against sexual offenses] exist and they are mostly victims of sexual violence,” she added.
In her part, the Gender Officer of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, Patricia Njoroge, said women should be aware of GBV so that they can be able to report.
She said women of South Sudan lack support from the government to advocate for their rights which she said has disempowered women when it comes to dealing with cases of sexual violence.
“We have women lawyers and journalists as well as human rights defenders in this country but they are supposed to advocate for women’s rights,” Patricia said.
Rose Monica Kiden, one of the participants said women were less represented in all positions including government institutions.
In April 2021, the Federation of Women Lawyers in South Sudan trained women at the protection of civilians site in Juba on the transitional justice about Chapter Five of the revitalized peace agreement signed on September 12, 2018.