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South Sudan Sexual Violence on ‘Massive Scale,’ Report Says


South Sudan’s ongoing civil war between government soldiers and rebel fighters — between the Muslim-dominated regions of the north and the heavily Christian influenced, more Westernized sections of the south — has resulted in massive sexual violence on children, and sexual slavery to women.

South Sudan’s long-running civil war has taken its toll on women and children.

One boy, 13, Batista, recalls how he was snatched from bed, drugged and raped during the middle of the night.

Breitbart notes (citing the Associated Press):

“I don’t remember a lot,” Batista says, darting his eyes toward the dirt floor as he sits in a makeshift clinic in one of South Sudan’s displaced people’s camps in the town of Wau. The Associated Press is using only the boy’s first name to protect his identity.

Four years into South Sudan’s devastating civil war, the world’s youngest nation is reeling from sexual violence on a “massive scale,” a new Amnesty International report says. Thousands of women, children and some men are suffering in silence, grappling with mental distress. Some now have HIV. Others were rendered impotent.

The report is based on interviews with 168 victims of sexual violence in South Sudan and in refugee camps in neighboring Uganda, home to the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis.

Some of the sexual assaults occur not during the fighting but among the millions of people sheltering from the conflict.

What’s most horrendous is that those who are supposed to be helping aren’t really doing all that much.

Batista, for example, was raped by a guy he said he saw frequently hanging around the camp run by the United Nations.

More from Breitbart:

The U.N. last year reported a 60 percent increase in gender-based violence in South Sudan, with 70 percent of women in U.N. camps in the capital, Juba, having been raped since the start of the civil war in December 2013.

“This is premeditated sexual violence. Women have been gang-raped, sexually assaulted with sticks and mutilated with knives,” says Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty’s regional director for East Africa. Victims are left with “debilitating and life-changing consequences,” and many have been shunned by their families.

The new report interviewed 16 male victims, some who said they had been castrated or had their testicles pierced with needles.

“Some of the attacks appear designed to terrorize, degrade and shame the victims, and in some cases to stop men from rival political groups from procreating,” Wanyeki says.

The U.N. Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan and others say both government and opposition forces use rape as a weapon of war — a strategy made worse because of the country’s culture of stigma.

“If a survivor is left unsupported or untreated, he or she may develop more serious mental health problems,” says Aladin Borja, coordinator for the national mental health and psychosocial support group for the International Organization for Migration.

Survivors are discouraged from speaking openly about rape, Borja says, meaning attacks could continue with impunity.

Amnesty International says many victims are targeted because of their ethnicity.

“They hide in the bush and jump out at you and rape you on the road,” says Bakhit Mario, who also shelters in the U.N. camp in Wau. The 22-year-old is part of the Fertit people, a name for several minority ethnic groups from the north.

She says friends and family have been raped by men who are Dinka, one of South Sudan’s largest ethnic groups and the one of President Salva Kiir.

“I see aborted babies in the camp’s bathrooms,” Mario says. She believes many are a result of unwanted pregnancies due to rape.

South Sudan’s government has condemned the sexual attacks and promised to take swift action to protect the innocent. But victims say otherwise — that little is being done to help. When Batista finally went to report his rape, he said the perpetrator was arrested — then let free just a few days later.

And as reports:

Religion is the pivotal factor in the conflict. The North, with roughly two-thirds of Sudan’s land and population, is Muslim and Arabic-speaking; the Northern identity is an inseparable amalgamation of Islam and the Arabic language. The South is more indigenously African in race, culture, and religion; its identity is indigenously African, with Christian influences and a Western orientation.

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