Full Statement:

On the occasion of 19 th June, the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, the importance of the position of survivors of sexual violence during the conflict in South Sudan, the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) hereby issues

Statement of the Council denouncing stigmatization of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in South Sudan, by which we, the undersigned Church leaders

Recall the importance of influence that Churches and religious communities have on our society today; Stress that crimes against humanity are contrary to the interpretations of all religions;

Express respect for all victims of war;

Condemn sexual violence as one of the most heinous crimes committed during conflicts;

Remind that acts such as rape, sexual slavery and forced marriage are crimes under South Sudanese laws and are inconsistent with teachings and principles of Christian faith;

Acknowledge the suffering endured by survivors of sexual violence and that consequences are profound for their families and society as a whole;

Express concerns that some survivors of conflict-related sexual violence are condemned and rejected by their families and as result they are ostracized and relegated to the margins of society turning them into outcast;

Underline that the values oflove and respect for one another, healing the physically or mentally wounded, are the foundation of a peaceful and prosperous society;

Emphasize that there is no shame in being a victim of rape but the shame must lie with those who perpetrate such acts;

Highlight that survivors suffer tremendously for such rejection as stigma can have repercussions including suicide, diseases such as HIV etc.;

Point out that stigma at times extends to children born of rape resulting in discrimination and exclusion;

Emphasize the need to support the Church-led Action Plan for Peace processes for promotion of trust, dialogue and cooperation of all peoples;

Recall 19 th June, the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict;

Appeal to political and military leaders of state and non-state forces to abide to the commitments enshrined in the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, including on the prohibition to commit sexual violence;

Emphasize the need for the prominent role of governmental structures and public institutions in providing care, protection and justice for survivors of sexual violence in conflict;

Acknowledge the key role communities and civil society can play in alleviating the stigma faced by survivors of sexual violence;

Express hope for the wider community to provide support and understanding for the survivors of sexual violence,

Stress the need for constructive cooperation between state institutions, civil society, international organizations, Churches and religious communities in order to improve the status of survivors in South Sudan today,

Acknowledge the contribution of the media in raising awareness of the  status of survivors of sexual violence in conflict in our society today;

Recognize the important role young people can play in their local communities in reducing the rejection and condemnation of the survivors;

Stress the important role that civil society can play to improve the position of survivors of sexual violence in conflict;

Recognize that men are also victims and survivors of sexual violence in this conflict and that all ethnic communities are affected by this crime;

Appreciate the importance of public support for the survivors of sexual violence by the entire society, the inseparable part of which are the Churches and religious communities;

Recognize the necessity of eliminating social condemnation and stigmatization of survivors of conflict­ related sexual violence in South Sudan, and therefore:

  1. We invite all citizens, local communities and public institutions to refrain from discriminating, rejecting, restraining and stigmatizing survivors of sexual violence in conflict;
  2. We implore all citizens and local communities to welcome back to the community those survivors who are returning after captivity by state and non-state forces;
  3. We urge all stakeholders to allow survivors of sexual violence who want to speak up about the violence they suffered without being silenced by the stigma usually associated with such crimes;
  4. We urge all stakeholders to get involved in raising community awareness to address stigma associated with sexual violence and change behaviors;
  5. We appeal to mass media, influential local and national leaders in South Sudan to apply non­ stigmatizing communication when reporting on conflict-related sexual violence to ensure no survivor is blamed and/or criminalized for violence perpetrated against them or children born of rape;
  6. We recommend the improvement and availability of all services that the survivors need – health and psychosocial care, justice and economic empowerment;
  7. We encourage survivors to access services established for them in public institutions and other service provision points;
  8. We express the readiness of our Churches and religious communities to assist and express their support against the stigmatization of survivors of sexual violence in accordance with the Church teachings;
  9. We invite all religious officials (imams and priests) in all local communities to be the voice against stigmatization of survivors and to actively fight against condemnation and rejection of survivors;
  10. We emphasize the willingness of our Churches and religious communities to use their capacities in order to improve the quality of life of survivors, through dialogue;
  11. We express the need for further support to the work of Churches and religious communities in the empowerment of survivors of sexual violence in conflict;
  1. We encourage national and international partners to provide support to prevent intergenerational transmission of trauma by supporting programs aiming at ending stigma within comprehensive reintegration and rehabilitation responses;
  2. We point out that perpetrators of these crimes need to find ways of repentance;

We, as the Church, remain committed to support all endeavors aiming at fighting the stigma associated with conflict-related sexual violence as well as provide spiritual and material support to survivors according to resources available