December 2, 2010 (JUBA) - Women activists are calling on the government of southern Sudan to allocate more resources to address gender based violence (GBV) which they say has increased in the region.
Ms. Achol Benjamin Kuol, a one of the women activists in the regional capital of Juba on Thursday said studies have shown that up to 56 per cent of women in the south experience some form of physical or sexual violence by their intimate partners.
Violence against women is common in most southern villages because men use it as way to discipline their wives, explained Achol, who is the chair of the newly formed south Sudan Gender Networking group (SSGNG).
Speaking to Sudan Tribune in Juba on Thursday after participating in the 16 Days of Activism campaign against GBV, Achol said although there is support from the government in terms of policy, resources allocated to address the problem is minimal.
“There is support at the policy level to actively address gender based violence, but it is not sup-ported at the national budget level. Gender based violence is addressed in the regional strategy for growth and reduction of poverty but there is no budget allocation for it,” she stressed.
The only source of funding currently available is from international donors that go into particular areas, she noted. Although there are GBV help desks at police stations, they are only located in urban areas, especially in the south's three biggest towns Malakal, Wau and Juba. Achol says that lack of funding means that these desks have not been spread throughout the region
“There is only one operational office in Wau where victims of gender violence can go and seek shelter; however, I am told that it does not receive any form of assistance from government. They get their assistance from donor communities through writing project proposal[s] which are sometime[s] not funded. We need to talk about this so that enough resources can be allocated to address gender based violence,” she said.
Participants also called for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to have offices in rural areas, where they can provide awareness to people at the grassroots level where GBV is more prevalent.
Lack of enough awareness education, particularly in rural areas was noted as one of the reasons that gender based violence is increasing in the country.
The activists say that laws in the autonomous south are another reason noted that hinder efforts to address gender based violence, with participants calling for the need to have them changed.
Not being subjected to gender based violence is recognized as a human right and public health issue in the region. The Southern Sudanese President, Salva Kiir Mayardit, has directed to have it included in the regions programs.