Women and girls who have experience sexual violence need access to proper health care services, so they can get emergency contraception, safe abortion care, HIV prevention and treatment and psychosocial support. In places where there is or has been conflict, this is extremely challenging. In South Sudan for example, two thirds of the health facilities affected by the conflict are reportedly closed or operating at limited capacity.
What can we do to improve the situation of women and girls who experience sexual violence? We need a greater investment in gender equality, women’s empowerment and gender transformative approaches to tackle the root causes of violence against women.
The Alliance working in South Sudan
Evidence from around the world shows that women and girls in conflict settings, including internally displaced people (IDP) camps, experience high levels of violence. There are 160 IDP camps in South Sudan. Of the estimated 500,000 women and girls of reproductive age affected by the crisis, about 10,000 women and girls are at risk of experiencing sexual violence. In far flung camps there are reports of instances of women and girls being raped while looking for firewood, food or fetching water for their families. Some have been killed as a result and many are too afraid to report their violation.
In South Sudan, the Alliance’s linking organisation ACHI has been working with community-based programmes to tackle the twin problems of HIV and violence against girls. ACHI works with internally displaced people in camps, providing HIV services including testing and counselling services, information and awareness, condom distribution, referral to treatment and follow-up. In general, there are few projects in IDP camps in South Sudan to protect and respond to women and girls who experience violence, which makes ACHI’s work so important.
Read more about ACHI’s work in this new case study.