Supporting the abused women in South Sudan
It is a violation of human rights, a major global health problem, and is experienced by approximately one in three women worldwide. Yet the fight to end violence against women is too often overlooked and underfunded. In crisis-affected South Sudan where women and girls have long faced the threat of physical and sexual violence as well as early and forced marriage, our foundation is working hard to get survivors the support they need.
The current conflict has further compounded the situation, making South Sudan a truly dangerous place to be a woman or a girl. "Things are different now because we are in a crisis, things are not the same as they were,” said Alice. She is working to raise awareness of violence against women in a country where it is estimated that more than half of young women aged 15-24 years have experienced some form of gender-based violence.
“Women are harassed in many different ways,” she explained. “They may be touched, beaten, sexually abused. Most women in South Sudan have been affected.”
To help combat the rise of gender-based violence, our foundation works with local communities to raise awareness, while also engaging directly with survivors to provide counselling and referrals for specialist support. Raising awareness is fundamental to our work as for many women, fear and stigma often prevents them from seeking the care they urgently need.
“People react differently. Some isolate themselves from friends and family members and need emotional support, others need referring to hospital for medical attention. Sometimes women need protection or legal support. This is where we come in. We know what support needs providing and who can provide it. But we do not force people. Through counselling we help them make their own decisions.” said Alice
“We run support groups which include women and mothers living with HIV, and often the HIV may be the result of sexual abuse. They come together to talk about their experiences, how they felt alone in their homes before and were just waiting to die. Since joining the group, after a few months you see the women start to talk about how they feel and they can move on and join in again. Eventually they are also able to help others,”