Juba, 28 September 2017— the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Access to Justice project in collaboration with Human Rights Initiative launched a pocket guide on Wednesday “Legal Provisions Relating to Gender Equality and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in South Sudan” with a consensus on the need to transform and scale up the country’s gender legal framework, to enhance the protection of women and girls against discrimination, forced marriage and gender-based violence.
The publication, the first of its kind in South Sudan, was officially launched during a high-level presentation in Juba by Hon. Awut Deng Acuil, Minister of Gender, Child, and Social Welfare. In attendance were also Mrs. Regina Lullo, Director General, Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, Mr. Taban Romano, Executive Director, HRI, South Sudan, Mr. Charles Bentley Director, US INL, and Rowland Cole, Chief Technical Advisor, UNDP, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
In a keynote speech, Hon. Awut noted that, “almost 60 million people are displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations.” She further stated that, “the risk for women and girls to become targets of sexual and gender-based violence is furthermore multiplied in conflict and that South Sudan is not an exception to this unacceptable phenomenon.”
Hon. Awut commended HRI for publishing the guide for stakeholders involved in the protection of women, and underscored the fact that South Sudan has put in place several policies and laws to tackle violence against women.
“I wish to congratulate the Human Rights Initiative (HRI) for taking this initiative in publishing this pocket guide on our laws that protect women and children. Most of these laws are unknown, inaccessible and difficult to understand. This initiative will enable the public, but more so, the police, lawyers and others who are involved in the protection of women, to be more effective in fulfilling their mandate. More importantly, it will help women in knowing what their rights are.”
For his part, Mr. Taban Romano, Executive Director of HRI called for the immediate end the culture of impunity. He stated that the laws of South Sudan provide for the protection of women and girls against discrimination and gender-based violence. He cited the desire to adhere to customary norms and weak state of the rule of law institutions as the main impediments to ending gender inequality and sexual and gender-based violence in South Sudan.
UNDP and Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Technical Advisor, Rowland Cole, urged civil society organizations to work together with their partners in law enforcement institutions to support the country’s gender equality agenda. Speaking to South Sudan’s potentials, Cole said: “it is important to note that the Ministry of Gender has taken the lead in ensuring that a number of gender policies are in place in conformity with UN resolution 1325.”
Cole further stressed that by addressing the challenge of gender inequality, South Sudan can achieve decisive progress towards the protection of women and girls against gender-based violence.
Further to the launch, the Juba College of Law requested copies of the document to use as part of their LLB course. The pocket guide will be used for the fourth year courses of Child Law and Women and the Law. In the same vein, the Kampala International University based in Juba requested the document to support their coursework Social Science and Development Studies, specifically the legal aspects of these courses.
The Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare Hon. Awut also requested that the document is disseminated nationwide due to its high quality. She offered to get state-level ministries of gender to provide support in the dissemination of the document. Other CSOs such as Steward Women, have expressed interest in partnering in the dissemination of the document.