Rape and other forms of sexual violence by all sides in South Sudan’s civil war have become so widespread that a 2-year-old child was among the victims, the U.N. special representative on sexual violence in armed conflict said on Monday.
UN representative, Zainab Hawa Bangura told reporters, “In my 30 years of experience, I’ve never witnessed anything like what I saw in Benti.”
“The IDPs (internally displaced persons) seeking refuge there face a combination of … insecurity, unimaginable living conditions, acute day-to-day protection concerns and rampant sexual violence,” she said. Fighting erupted in December in South Sudan – which declared independence from Sudan in 2011 – after months of political tension between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy and political rival, Riek Machar. Peace talks brokered by African regional bloc IGAD have yet to bring an end to the bloodshed.
“Survivors and health care workers told me heartbreaking stories of rape, gang rape, abduction, sexual slavery and forced marriage,” Bangura said.