WAR CRIME: South Sudan: Women and Girls Raped as ‘wages’ for Government-Allied Fighters
The testimony from dozens of people working in Bentiu, the capital of South Sudan’s Unity state, points to the systematic abduction and abuse of women as a form of wages for forces allied to the government. The worst atrocities have led more than 110,000 people to seek safety at a UN base in the town.
“Their pay is what they loot and the women they abduct,” said one military expert based in Bentiu, who was not authorised to speak but said he had heard of women being taken to the militia-stronghold of Mankien in Mayom, as well as “into the cattle camps”.
He believes that, “across the state, maybe thousands of women” have been “made wives or slaves” by government-allied forces recruited by county leaders to help the army take back territory from rebels in brutal offensives between April and September.
*Nyabol was abducted from her village in Rubkona county in April with 19 others. For two months, she was tied to a post with no shade by day and abused by soldiers at night, in a militia base called Kotong.
The abduction of women and girls for use as sex slaves — some of them held indefinitely, tied up with hundreds of others in secret rape camps — is a disturbing new aspect of South Sudan’s 21-month conflict, already characterised by well-documented war crimes and human rights abuses.
Nigeria’s ‘Chibok girls’, abducted by Boko Haram in April 2014, and Iraq’s Yazidi women taken as sex slaves by Islamic State are well-known.
But the plight of perhaps thousands of South Sudanese women and girls from just a single state, abducted and subjected to repeated, brutal rape and slave-like working conditions has remained hidden until now.
This civil war here in South Sudan will be a top item on President Obama’s agenda during his visit to Africa this month, and I wish he could talk to these survivors.
Gatkuoth Kueah Yak tells me he watched from a distance as South Sudan government soldiers tied up his 15 children and put them in a grass hut. And then, he says, he watched as the soldiers torched the hut and burned his family alive.
Another woman, Nyabuol Rik Puol, says she wants counterattacks as vengeance against the soldiers who tried to rape her 11-year-old daughter and then killed her sister when she protested.
Read More: Tales of Horror Should Galvanize Obama