The Government of South Sudan (GoSS) pledged on Tuesday to legislate and enforce specific laws against gender-based violence after media reports indicated last week that a girl was beaten to death by a relative in Rumbek North County, Lakes state, over a disputed marital gift.
The act was condemned by the state authorities with Rumbek North county commissioner describing it as “barbaric act” and “against humanity”. The minister of gender, children and social welfare, Agnes Kwaje Lasuba, became one of the first women activists to condemn the practice.
Speaking to Sudan Tribune by a telephone from Juba, after addressing a ten day capacity building workshop on traditional beliefs, the minister called for a workshop to address human rights issues.
"The objective of this workshop is to deliberate at length ways to address gender-based violence and traditional practices against human rights, like the domestic violence against women. We have a lot of gender-based violence repeatedly coming out from the rural areas where men are sometimes accused of beating women without explicit reason as means to install discipline", said Kwaje.
"The statistics of domestic violence cases, often by men beating their wives, is increasing. This is unacceptable and must be stopped", she said. "The recent report that a girl was beaten to death in Rumbek is one an example that such practices continues to dominate in some communities. It must be eliminated by all means, by enacting a law that deals with such cases", explained minister Kwaje.
Sounding confident that her ministry would secure the approval of an act, the minister said the statistics on violence against women and girls in rural areas have sharply increased in recent years. "Through human rights groups and activists in gender based violence working in partnership with the ministry of gender, children and social welfare, it has been discovered that statistics on cases of physical abuses by men in most rural areas are rising".
"This is unacceptable practice and it must not be encouraged”, she said, before revealing that the government plans to enact specific legislations to deal with such cases of gender violence, sexual harassment, trafficking and rape. “The government condemns such practice and looks forward to ensuring that those who committed such crimes are brought to book without delay", said minister Kwaje.
The minister also urged the 25 participants in ten-day workshop to stop traditions that defend gender-based violence and encouraged women and girls to report sexual crimes committed against them to the court.
She called on women to consider reporting any abuse on them to the relevant authorities, such as law enforcement agents in their area. “It is the right for women to report to the police and courts all gender-based violence so that victims can get justice.” She warned of the danger of the “pretext of respecting unfriendly traditional practices.”