Guests at a sexual exploitation and abuse awareness event in Akorogbodi, Yambio
Women in Yambio are calling for justice against the perpetrators of sexual exploitation and abuse, saying they bear the biggest burden of sexual crimes.
“Really we the young people, the ladies, whenever we see an advertisement that says they need someone for a job, and apply, they tell us that they first want to have sex with us before they employ us, and this greatly affects us,” said Aniongo Roseline, a resident of Akorogbodi.
Roseline was speaking at an event where several Akorogbodi area residents in Yambio County were sensitized on the negative effects of sexual exploitation and abuse in society.
The one-day awareness campaign was organized by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in partnership with the Community-Based Complaint Mechanism (CBCM), a body tasked to help victims of sexual exploitation and abuse in the county.
Despite several calls made by the international community – including the UN – against sexual abuse, many women in Yambio feel not much is done to enhance reporting mechanisms and factors surrounding the cases of abuse.
The awareness campaign is considered an eye-opener for the victims of sexual exploitation and abuse, and an opportunity to speak out against the practice. It has equipped the participants with the necessary information to deal with issues pertaining Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.
“I am going to encourage my friends and the sisters to have the courage to say no. I will tell them that the practice is not good,” Aniongo Roseline stated.
Most participants at the awareness-raising campaign acknowledged that the practice exists in the society but taking legal measures against perpetrators is yet to be seen.
“It is happening especially, in organizations that I cannot mention and there are reports that we are receiving about that issue,” Joyce Elisa Bage, a member of Community-Based Complaint Mechanism in Yambio confirmed.
Bage condemned the practice and encouraged the attendants to take measures against it.
“Sexual exploitation and abuse is a crime so, we have to report to the focal points that we have mentioned, you can report to YWCA [Young Women Christian Association], CEPO [Community Empowerment for Progress Organization], and UNMISS”.
On 28 February 2017, The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released a report to the UN General Assembly in which he announced his intention to address sexual exploitation and abuse. His strategy identifies four primary areas of action: prioritizing victims, ending impunity, engaging civil society and other partners, and improving strategic communications to aid in education and transparency.
It is on this note that Stella Abayomi, the Officer-in-Charge, UNMISS Field Office Yambio, encouraged the participants to join hands in the fight against the practice of SEA.
“The report is very resolute and definitive with a clear commitment of the Secretary-General on actions to be taken with regards to SEA [Sexual Exploitation and Abuse] with emphasis on the four main points. It is against this backdrop that we wish to form this synergy with our partners and stakeholders and by doing so, we aim at encouraging community members to be aware of the risk of SEA and how to prevent it in their respective communities,” she said.
Preventing sexual exploitation and abuse is part of the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative.