BMS tries to stop GBV in South Sudan
BMS World Mission has raised the plight of women experiencing atrocious gender based violence in the fledgling African state with the UK Government
When Hollywood actor George Clooney speaks out about South Sudan (like he did recently), the world tends to listen. But on the whole, the civil war that is tearing the nation apart goes unnoticed in mainstream UK media. With so much other trouble happening in the world, it is easy to ignore it.
As Christians who care about injustice, though, we can’t ignore it.
BMS has already helped hundreds of internally displaced people (IDPs) in South Sudan, by providing food parcels and emergency relief kits to help them survive. We did this in 2015 at the Narus IDP camp and now hundreds more families will be helped in the Juba area in the coming weeks.
But research recently published by the We Will Speak Out Coalition (WWSO), of which BMS is a founder member, has spurred us to do more. Women who have experienced gender based violence (GBV), especially sexual violence during the war in South Sudan, bravely shared what they had gone through. They also told the WWSO researcher what they had witnessed being done to others who didn’t survive their ordeal. Their stories are shocking and heartbreaking. What has been done to these women and girls is so disturbing and inhumane that we are choosing not to share the explicit details with you.
And this is not just in the past. There is evidence that GBV is still happening and what is more, often in places where vulnerable people could be protected, those responsible for their security are turning a blind eye.
BMS can’t and won’t turn a blind eye to these atrocities. Our mission imperative demands that we should do all we can be good news to those surviving sexual violence in South Sudan. That is why BMS Manager for Mission Steve Sanderson represented us and the WWSO at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FC0) this month. We wanted the UK Government to be aware of the shocking acts being perpetrated in South Sudan and to urge them to use their influence to stop them.
Steve was encouraged to see that the Government appeared to be listening and also valuing the role of faith communities in responding to GBV in locations around the world other groups often can’t reach.
“The Government seemed receptive to the argument that faith communities are at the heart of the solution to sexual violence in fragile states,” says Steve. “It was good to see that they saw a critical role in South Sudan for the Church in not only reporting what is happening on the ground but also providing a safe space for survivors.”
The FCO said that South Sudan would continue to be a key focus for them as they seek to prevent sexual violence as a weapon of war. We are committed to making sure this remains the case and that GBV survivors there get the justice and safety they so desperately need.
Many of you will remember the launch of our Dignity initiative. Dignity has had a deep impact on what we do, and is far from being over. In the years to come, we will continue to confront GBV. What’s happening in South Sudan shows that our work combatting this global injustice has only just begun. Through standing alongside survivors and advocating on their behalf, we are seeking to bring healing and are working with others to protect the vulnerable from preventable harm in the future.
Please pray for those affected by GBV in South Sudan. Pray for us as we advocate for these victims, that we can, with others, bring about change.
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission.