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2014 | J.K. Edward (The Sudd Institute) - A strategy for achieving gender equality in South Sudan

This report by The Sudd Institute examines how structural factors (for instance the place of women in society and women’s participation in the public sphere), customary laws and traditional practice and economic hardship shape women’s status and hinder their effective participation in leadership positions in South Sudan. Of particular interest are pages 23-27 where the study argues that, because of the institution of bridewealth, women in South Sudan cease to think of themselves as an individual once they get married. In the marriage the man has the exclusive control. Furthermore, in the 21-year civil war gender-based violence against women has increased in South Sudan and women who venture into politics or other public professions encounter marginalization, intimidation, and sexual harassment.

The author asserts that no serious measures are taken by the President to address abusive practices. Very limited avenues to report abuse cases, as well as social stigma, hinder women from reporting and sharing their experiences. Civil law provisions on women’s rights and on sexual violence in particular are inadequate or completely ineffective at the moment, allowing customary courts to act against women’s interests (see art. 16 of the 2011 Transitional Constitution and Chapter XVIII of the 2008 Criminal Code providing only a very limited definition of rape, on our Legal Instruments page). Perpetrators who are convicted are usually ordered to pay the victim’s family compensation. The study shows that restorative and reconciliatory justice practices, together with the lack of financial resources, limit and delay women’s chances of obtaining legal help.