Thursday, September 04, 2014

South Sudan: Yei River County court overwhelmed by sexual abuse cases

Source: UN Mission in South Sudan

3 September 2014 - It is vital for courts in Yei River County, Central Equatoria State, to come up with local solutions to address rampant under-age pregnancy rates in schools, an UNMISS official said recently during a visit to the county.

Civil Affairs Officer Hussein Saeed was responding to information provided by the Head Chief of Yei River County B Court, Peter Morjan, that the court was overwhelmed by cases of pregnant school-going girls.

Mr. Morjan added that the court had registered over 100 sexual abuse cases since January.

“We handle at least 20 cases of school-related pregnancies each month,” he said. “Most children are impregnated at ages 13 and 14. Such girls are at risk of becoming infertile due to damage to their delicate reproductive organs.”

The court official noted that perpetrators range from businessmen and commercial motorcycle riders to employees from different organizations and unemployed community members.

He proposed that if convicted, such offenders should be kept behind bars for a reasonably long period to serve as a deterrent to others.

According to Yei Day Secondary School head teacher David Lumori, his school has registered two cases this year, and high poverty levels in the state are a major factor contributing to the soaring pregnancy rate.

Gloria Aku Gaza, a sexual and gender-based violence manager for the civil society organization Voice for Change (VFC) , said parents who fail to attend to their daughters’ needs also promote the negative trend.

“When the girls fail to get support from their parents, they seek help from their boyfriends as a last resort,” she said. “This renders them more susceptible sexually.”

She added that other parents who use their homes as places to brew local alcohol also expose their under-age daughters to predators.

Ms. Gaza said in a bid to deal with the growing challenge, VFC had trained about 140 community working groups and researchers in nine different workshops in the county to educate parents about the importance of girls’ education.

Mr. Morjan appealed to all Yei residents to act as watchdogs and report any such cases to the relevant authorities.

“Our hope for the future lies with the learning of these children,” he said. “I hope our country will change, when our children continue with education… as our priority.”