Violence against women is a human rights violation. And yet, one in three women around the world experience violence in their lifetime, often inflicted by someone they know, love and trust. To coincide with the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, we hear from six women and girls about their experiences of this pervasive issue in our series – "Speaking Out in South Sudan".
Gisela Joseph is 16 years old and lives in the UN’s protection of civilians camp in the city of Wau.
“As a girl, I’m scared to go out of the camp on my own. If you walk to the market, boys start whistling at you. If you start talking to them, they may leave you in peace. If you don’t, they start bullying you. I wish I could go to school and learn. Girls should study as much as boys. In the future, I’d like to be a teacher and teach girls of my age to put school first.”
Mariam Juma is 20 years old and lives in the UN’s protection of civlians camp in the city of Wau.
“Young women of my age are always in danger. If you go to collect wood you run a risk of being raped. Since I came here I feel quite safe. I like the women friendly-space in the camp because we can talk to each other, share our problems and support each other. We also do sewing and knitting. I also learnt how important it is to seek help and [for women who are raped] to get medical treatment within 72 hours. I pray the future will be better for us, and for other young women like me. I hope there will be peace in my country and my children will see better days.”
Asunta Garang is 29 years old and lives in Juba.
“Women should all be given the chance to go to school and be educated. This is the only way they can defend themselves. I’m not saying girls shouldn’t marry but they have the right to choose the right moment to do so. The advice I have for them is push themselves and study as much as you can. This is the only way for us to see a better future. My biggest hope in life is to see peace in my country. To see my children going to school, and to see my mother again in Aweil. ”
Suzie Michael is 30 years old and lives in Juba.
“When I arrived in Juba, my parents demanded a dowry from my husband. He couldn’t afford it because he didn’t have a job. So they forced us to separate. My husband went to Gudele in search of a job and I was left here on my own with my children. I make sandwiches in the market so I can make some money to feed my children. When we first arrived here, we were really struggling, but now life has improved a little thanks to IsraAID [an aid organization], who formed a women's group and helped us to set up a small business. I hope we’ll get a better life in the future. South Sudan cannot achieve peace if women are always abused and silenced.”
Jasinta* is 37 years old and lives in the UN’s protection of civilians camp in the city of Wau.
“Domestic violence is a problem. I myself experienced violence from my husband. One day I complained because he hadn’t brought any money to buy food. He got upset and beat me like he was killing a snake. I know he was frustrated because that he can no longer get a job. We have no money, no food, but there is no excuse for violence against women. The women friendly space here really helped me overcome my problems and talking to other women makes me feel I’m not alone.”
Regina Karlo is 65 years old and lives in the city of Wau.
“I live here with my dog, who keeps me good company, and my daughter. I do a bit of gardening and I hope that our country will be peaceful again. I’m an old woman now, but I think of all those young women and girls who face violence in my country. The vast majority of them will survive at least one kind of violence: sexual assault, forced early marriage and so many other abuses.”