Treating Our People is Our Pride
Save The Children South Sudan in partnership with UNFPA and the Health Cluster ensuring survivors of sexual violence, receive better treatment
The UN has long documented incidences of rape and sexual violence as a widespread weapon of war in South Sudan. 1Testimonies from children arriving in Uganda have told Save the Children staff deeply disturbing accounts. Joan*, a midwife who fled to a Ugandan refugee camp, said: "When the armed groups come to the village they would rape young girls. 10 men can sleep with one woman, no problem if you die. They came and killed people and left them by the roadside, some slaughtered (Knife to the throat). What I have seen in South Sudan now is like nothing I have seen before. They used to not kill women, now they are killing women, children and the elderly".
One of the biggest challenges in ensuring survivors of sexual violence receive crucial medical treatment is reducing the stigma that is too often attached to these violations and ensuring the victims come forward for help. Survivors should not let perceived shame get in the way of accessing treatment and medicines which can reduce the chance of HIV; confirm potential pregnancy; treat wounds suffered during the attack; or receive counselling services following their ordeal. The way that survivors are treated in the initial period following an attack is crucial to their recovery, physically and psychologically, as well as the likelihood that justice will be pursued and served.
Save the Children is working with partners including UNFPA, with support from the EU and US Aid departments, to train health workers in best practice in dealing with sexual violence in conflict-affected areas.
The programme includes training for Medical and Clinical officers, Nurses, Midwives and Health Officers on the front line of health services in South Sudan, medics who tragically see incidents of sexual violence all too often, and know that what's reported in just the tip of the iceberg. They will put this latest knowledge into practice when they identify and treat sexual violence survivors at their respective health facilities.
Participants gave very positive feedback on the training, taking personal responsibility for restoring hope, as well as providing medical treatment for survivors.
"Many survivors hide and shy away. We will use this knowledge to treat them," Nyuon Isaac, Registered Nurse working in Juba said: "Treating our people is our pride. They will benefit from us."
Another trainee Josephine Eiyo, a Registered Midwife from former Unity State said: "We will need to give the knowledge out to others because they are the reason we were trained."
55 medical professionals have now been trained as part of this partnership with the UNFPA and the South Sudan Health Cluster. The training, which is facilitated in partnership with UNFPA, equips health workers with skills and knowledge in clinical management of sexual and gender based violence incidents.
Joseph Akech, Save the Children's Policy and Advocacy Director who addressed the participants at the closing event, said: "Save the Children commends you, the frontline health workers, who have often put your lives on the line to save the lives of innocent children and their mothers. To me, you're the heroes of this moment."