JHR South Sudan holds several SPLA soldiers accountable for rape

JHR-trained journalists Kidega Livingstone and Maura Ajak hold South Sudanese People’s Liberation Army soldiers accountable for rape as a weapon of war – and get justice for women in South Sudan.

Kidega Livingstone of the Juba Monitor, and Maura Ajak of Bakhita Radio reported on a mass rape by SPLA soldiers of the governing party, in a village near Juba, South Sudan. The persistent media attention helped lead to investigations and arrests of the soldiers involved.

On Tuesday, Feb. 14, reporter Kidega Livingstone of the Juba Monitor followed up on an accusation from Bishop Paul Yusgusk that soldiers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) had raped several women in the small village Kubi, south of Juba and demanded that an investigation take place. This was Livingstone’s first story. It instantly became breaking news in the region.

The next day, Livingstone wrote a follow-up story. With the Bishop’s assistance, he obtained access to the hospital where the women were recovering – an integral source missing in his first article. One of the rape survivors, wishing to remain anonymous, told Livingstone of her traumatizing ordeal.

“The government soldiers came and gathered some young boys who were playing around and locked them inside a certain house,” she said. “On seeing this, most women ran to the bush. When we returned home in the evening, the soldiers decided to rape us.’” Another survivor seated on her bed at the hospital said, “There is nothing more I can say… they have spoiled me, but only God will judge.”

Livingstone now had the additional source of the rape survivors’ accounts. His mentor, Jale Richard, a member of JHR’s Train the Trainer course, encouraged Livingstone to contact the SPLA to have their say. The SPLA spokesperson confirmed the rapes had been perpetrated by its soldiers and that it was launching an investigation into the crime.

In the meantime, Radio Bakhita (CRN) reporter Maura Ajak, also covered the story. She followed up with an investigation process on radio. With JHR mentorship, Maura was able to amplify the story of the mass rape — while protecting the safety and anonymity of the survivors.

A few weeks later, following up on the story, the Juba Monitor was able to report that the SPLA had arrested several soldiers for the crime.

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