Agnes Kwaje Lasuba

South Sudan calls for an end of violence against women and early marriage

March 8, 2013 (BOR) – Hundreds South Sudanese citizens and political leaders converged on Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, to celebrate International Women’s Day on Friday, where speakers called for early marriage and violence against women to end world’s youngest country.

JPEG - 4 MbWomen leaders, from the left, Angilina Teny, the wife of South Sudan’s Vice President Riek Machar, Rebecca Nyandeng, Presidential Adviser on gender and human rights, among others saluting women and men in Bor’s Freedom Square, March 8, 2013 (ST)

Women from the army, police, prison services and fire brigade were joined by women farmers’ groups and businesswomen to march in Bor’s freedom square to welcome the guest of honour, Rebecca Nyandeng, the advisor on gender and human rights to South Sudan’s president.

South Sudanese singers, including Mary Boyoy, from the Murle tribe and Tarifa Pathay from the Lou Nuer group sang songs promoting unity between South Sudan’s many tribes.

Primary school pupils recited a poem, asking society not to look at women only as a source of wealth or producers of children. Families often marry girls off at a young age as they benefit from the tradition of bride prices. The children’s poem said that behind each powerful leader is a powerful woman.

Addressing the ceremony in Bor, Nyandeng, called up on South Sudanese families and communities to respects women, acknowledging that “our fellow women are still suffering in the villages, fetching water [over a] long distance”.

JPEG - 4.4 MbSouth Sudan’s presidential advisor on gender, Rebecca Nyandeng, addressing the gathering for International Women’s Day in Bor, Jonglei State, March 8, 2013 (ST)

Nyandeng is the widow of John Garang, the former leader of the SPLM/SPLA rebels who have governed South Sudan since 2005. She said the government was not doing enough, for reasons she did not explain, to “bring town to people”.

The policy of bringing services to the rural population was the vision of her late husband, who was the president of the autonomous region of South Sudan and First Vice President at the time of his death in a helicopter crash in mid-2005.

Nyandeng called for more women’s participation in all walks of life both in the state and national government.

“We, the women, let us help our families by contributing to the family budget. If you don’t have anything [money] of your own, the husbands will be rough every time you ask them to give you more money to buy food. That is why they say ’what about that money I gave you, how did you finish it?’ We must not be receivers but producers of wealth”, she added.

The gender and human rights advisor said that sending more girls to schools will help to reduce the gap between men and women in the new country.

However, she denounced the state’s schools in rural areas, calling on communities to rebuild village schools with local materials.

“Today’s school structures are discouraging, when children come to schools, they cannot see the differences between home and the school. This makes some children to go back home just to play”, she told the crowd.

JPEG - 3.7 MbJonglei state women entertain guests of honour in Bor on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2013 (ST)

She also encouraged the women to invest in agriculture so it can become a source of income.

“Look at me, I came from Juba to my farm, removed all the bangles and everything and cultivated for three months in my farm. I harvested over 1,000 bags which gave me about 400,000 [South Sudanese] Pounds”, she said.

“This is greater than my annual pay as the advisor to the president. If you do the same, you will be rich quickly.”

Jonglei’s minister of gender, child and social welfare, Rachael Anok, said that there is nothing wrong with pupils attending their classes under trees.

“I was taught in a grass-roofed class, and now I am the minister”, she told the celebrators.

The state governor of Jonglei, Kuol Manyang Juuk, criticised used the event to denounce the South Sudanese cultural practices, such as early marriage, that prevent girls from completing their education. He calling on parents to treat both boys and girls equally as this was the reason for the wide gap in literacy rates.

“During the war, the SPLA leadership took all the boys to Ethiopia and Kenya to get better learning opportunities but girls remained with their mothers at home. Those who went to other places got good education”, he said.

JPEG - 3.5 MbFemale members of Bor’s security services march to celebrate international women’s day in Jonglei state, March 8, 2013 (ST)

Men are the main cause of domestic violence in South Sudan, the governor said, adding that some men believe that beating women is the best way of disciplining them.

“Violence is not the best way of problem solving, but worsens the situation”, he continued.

South Sudan’s minister of gender, child and social welfare, Agnes Kwaje Lasuba, while addressing the public during the celebration, urged the public to avoid gender related violence.

She said that girls should not be allowed to marry before before the age of eighteen and urged parents to stop forced marriages. Girls are used as tools to get wealth by their parents, the minister said.

JPEG - 4.3 MbSouth Sudan’s minister of gender and social welfare, Agnes Kwaje Lasuba, addressing the gathering celebrating in Bor, Jonglei State March 8, 2013 (ST)

President Salva Kiir’s message, as read by his advisor on gender in Bor, assured Jonglei citizens that the South Sudan government has not forgotten the plight of women in the conflict affected state.

“We have enough forces in Jonglei to make sure that peace comes back soon”, said the president in his message.

The president asked the community to abolish cultures that encourage early marriage and urged for women to empower themselves by sending girls to school, in order to fulfill achieve the UN’s millennium goals, which aim for all children to be completing primary school by 2015 .

MEN COOK FOR WOMEN IN TWIC EAST

Twic East celebrated International Women’s Day by men cooking for women, the county commissioner Dau Akoi told Sudan Tribune from his headquarters in Panyagoor.

Many South Sudanese men refuse to do house work such as cooking, fetching water or any work that has traditionally been assigned to women in the household. Last year the Jonglei governor said he planned to outlaw laziness by banning men from playing games under trees to encourage them to cultivate the country’s vast fertile lands.

Women groups in Twic East performed dramas discouraging early marriage, which is often associated with South Sudan’s high maternal mortality rate. They also argued that girls would be unable to care for their own children before the age of 18.

(ST)

[View the story "International Women’s Day 2013" on Storify]

Coverage relating to Sudan and South Sudan around international women’s day.

Storified by Sudan Tribune· Fri, Mar 08 2013 13:06:16

Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article45759

South Sudan plans law against gender-based violence

By Ngor Arol Garang

February 22, 2011 (ABYEI) – The Government of South Sudan (GoSS) pledged on Tuesday to legislate and enforce specific laws against gender-based violence after media reports indicated last week that a girl was beaten to death by a relative in Rumbek North County, Lakes state, over a disputed marital gift.

JPEG - 48.3 kb
Agnes Kwaje Lasuba (miriyamfm)

The act was condemned by the state authorities with Rumbek North county commissioner describing it as “barbaric act” and “against humanity”. The minister of gender, children and social welfare, Agnes Kwaje Lasuba, became one of the first women activists to condemn the practice.

Speaking to Sudan Tribune by a telephone from Juba, after addressing a ten day capacity building workshop on traditional beliefs, the minister called for a workshop to address human rights issues.

“The objective of this workshop is to deliberate at length ways to address gender-based violence and traditional practices against human rights, like the domestic violence against women. We have a lot of gender-based violence repeatedly coming out from the rural areas where men are sometimes accused of beating women without explicit reason as means to install discipline”, said Kwaje.

“The statistics of domestic violence cases, often by men beating their wives, is increasing. This is unacceptable and must be stopped”, she said. “The recent report that a girl was beaten to death in Rumbek is one an example that such practices continues to dominate in some communities. It must be eliminated by all means, by enacting a law that deals with such cases”, explained minister Kwaje.

Sounding confident that her ministry would secure the approval of an act, the minister said the statistics on violence against women and girls in rural areas have sharply increased in recent years. “Through human rights groups and activists in gender based violence working in partnership with the ministry of gender, children and social welfare, it has been discovered that statistics on cases of physical abuses by men in most rural areas are rising”.

“This is unacceptable practice and it must not be encouraged”, she said, before revealing that the government plans to enact specific legislations to deal with such cases of gender violence, sexual harassment, trafficking and rape. “The government condemns such practice and looks forward to ensuring that those who committed such crimes are brought to book without delay”, said minister Kwaje.

The minister also urged the 25 participants in ten-day workshop to stop traditions that defend gender-based violence and encouraged women and girls to report sexual crimes committed against them to the court.

She called on women to consider reporting any abuse on them to the relevant authorities, such as law enforcement agents in their area. “It is the right for women to report to the police and courts all gender-based violence so that victims can get justice.” She warned of the danger of the “pretext of respecting unfriendly traditional practices.”

(ST)

Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/South-Sudan-plans-law-against,38077

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