In South Sudan's war, thousands suffer rape and sex attacks

Although thousands of women have reported rape and other sexual atrocities in South Sudan's war, human rights groups say the figure is likely to be much higher.

    A pile of firewood lies next to a run-down bed inside the tent that these days serves as home for Nyakouth Bul.

    The wood is a lifeline for the 27-year-old. It's the only commodity to sustain herself and her five children living in this United Nations-run displaced people's camp in war-torn South Sudan's capital, Juba.

    But gathering firewood outside the camp can be dangerous.

    "We were a group of women and went to collect firewood," Bul recalled.

    "Five soldiers found us and we ran. I fell and they pointed their guns at me and then raped me and left me there. I came back to the camp and was too ashamed to get treatment," she told Al Jazeera.

    Bul says she hopes that one day she will get justice for the crimes committed against her. She is one of thousands of women in the camp who have been raped during South Sudan's five-year civil war.

    The conflict, which began after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup, has killed thousands and displaced four million - about a third of the population.

    Nearly all warring sides in South Sudan's war have been accused of committing sexual violence. The UN, which has designated June 19 as the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, and the African Union say the attacks in some cases amount to crimes against humanity

    "There's a massive problem of violence," UN relief chief Mark Lowcock told Al Jazeera in Juba.

    "The displaced people themselves, as well as those who fled, are subject to atrocious levels of sexual abuse, murder and killing on a rampant scale," he added.

    According to UNICEF, more than a 1,000 children were sexually assaulted in South Sudan in the first three years of the conflict.

    Meanwhile, 72 percent of women living in so-called protected sites in the capital Juba say they have been raped, mostly by police and soldiers.

    "Although thousands of women have reported rape and other sexual atrocities in South Sudan's war, rights organisations say the figure is likely much higher," Al Jazeera's Hiba Morgan, reporting from Juba, said.

    "That is because many do not report, out of fear."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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