Women held as sex slaves by Kiir’s South Sudan army ‘rape camps’

BENTIU, SOUTH SUDAN: Daily Nation, SEPT/28/2015, SSN;

IN SUMMARY: The plight of perhaps thousands of South Sudanese women and girls from just a single state, Unity State, abducted and subjected to repeated, brutal rape and slave-like working conditions by Kiir’s SPLA soldiers and allied militia, has remained hidden until now.

One woman was abducted by soldiers and taken to a military camp, tied up and raped repeatedly for two months.

Another was kidnapped with her 15-year-old sister and raped every night for five nights. A third was taken to a forest with her 12-year old daughter where both were raped.

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.

Dozens of interviews conducted by AFP in the northern Unity State reveal a systematic pattern of abduction and rape perpetrated by government soldiers and their allied militia during a recent offensive.

The investigation focused on attacks by government forces but both sides have perpetrated ethnic massacres, recruited and killed children and carried out widespread rape, torture and forced displacement of populations to “cleanse” areas of their opponents.

SYSTEMATIC ABDUCTION AND RAPE

Nyabena’s experience is typical.

The 30-year old mother was seized when soldiers attacked her village in Rubkona County in April. Men and boys were shot. Homes were looted and burned to the ground. Women and girls were rounded up. She was among 40 taken from two neighbouring settlements and wells up with tears when she talks about being torn away from her five children.

They were marched to Mayom County. Nyabena was held in Kotong, a stronghold of Major-General Matthew Puljang, commander of a tribal Bul Nuer militia aligned with South Sudan’s army, the SPLA, which has been battling rebels since December 2013.

From April to July this year the SPLA and Puljang’s militia carried out an offensive that United Nations investigators described as a “scorched earth policy” in an August report.

Fighting and flooding limits access to large parts of South Sudan, leading aid workers to refer to southern Unity State as “an information black-hole”.

A human rights investigator said: “Nobody knows what’s happening in Mayom County,” where many of the women were taken. One military expert estimated that “thousands of women” were abducted during the offensive.

“In all the southern Unity counties it’s been the same: those women who escape are lucky. Those who don’t are raped and abducted or killed,” said the rights investigator. “The abduction of women seems to be systematic. It might be for a day, or longer, or forever.”

Those who escaped recount their stories with numb, quiet voices. Nightmares plague some who wake up terrorised, thinking they are still captive.

After her abduction Nyabena was put to work during the day, carrying looted goods and food, collecting water and hoeing farms. She was guarded constantly during the day and tied up at night with other women.

“When one of the soldiers wanted to have sex he would come, untie us and take us away. When they were finished they would bring you back and tie you to the post again,” she said, stretching her elbows behind her back to show how she was bound. She said being raped by four men a night was common.

Women who refused to work or fought against their rape would disappear. “In the morning we discover they are missing,” she said. Of the 40 she arrived with in April, 10 disappeared this way.

VICTIMS AS YOUNG AS 12

Nyamai, a 38-year old mother of five, was taken from her village in Koch County. She was guarded constantly and tied up frequently. As many as 10 soldiers would queue up at night for their turn raping her.

“Please, let one guy deal with me, don’t come all of you,” she pleaded, and was beaten with a stick in response.

In another case, three of Nyatuach’s unmarried, teenaged daughters were abducted in May during an attack on their village in Rubkona County. Two are still missing, but her 17-year old daughter escaped with three of her nieces.

They returned “very sick, very thin”.

“Their bodies were weak and they were leaking fluids from so many men having intercourse with them,” Nyatuach said, a common symptom of fistula, an incontinence-causing tear in the wall between the vagina and bladder or rectum, that can be caused by particularly violent rape.

Others were raped repeatedly until, bleeding and unable to take any more, they were set free, or killed.

“When the girls were broken they would dispose of them,” said Nyatuach.

Rebecca found her 12-year old daughter again the day after their village in Koch County was attacked.

“When they took me, those people used me,” the girl told her mother. Rebecca boiled some water and washed her daughter with hot cloths.

“We can do nothing,” she told her. “It’s like that.”

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of those interviewed.

6 Comments

  1. Guet Athina Guet says:

    BENTIU, SOUTH SUDAN: Daily Nation,

    If this is really true, I am with you and it must condemn by all people of south Sudanese. However, let me remind you wars have an unintended consequences and these incidents are collateral damages of war. You have no account(s) of what really happen on the ground but hearsay. By giving to your readers this graphic details it doesn’t prove it as a fact. This article in humble opinion, it’s absurd. and personally I don’t trust you or your sources. Please stick to writing fictions you will do better in that field. If you remember the first coup d’ etat attempt by the butcher Machar against Dr. Garang, failed and Machar went on a killing spree of women, children and the old. Machar the butcher must be held accountable for all the mess in south Sudan. Bring Machar to justices for the killing of 30000 Dinkas in 1991.
    May god bless president Kiir and keep him safe, and may god bless south Sudan.

  2. Concerned Citizen says:

    I think writer is not from south Sudan. He is there pretending to be working with UNMSS or non-governmental organization, but in fact he spy for the government south Sudan and his agent who deployed him there. Let me state what make me to say that. First, it is clear in writer tone and also his message focus on militia commander who happened to be from Nuer tribe and focus less on government soldier. Let me ask. Where is the story of ladies and girls who were kept in government soldier areas got rapped daily by those who supposed to protect them. I am not here to dependent those criminal militias but the writer report look like a message from somebody who want to say that nuer are detrimental and destructive human being by there nature . And also to support a claim that nuer has a culture of destruction. In addition, those reports can be used as evidences to charge rebels who are fighting to dependent themselves and there relative alike. The other motive that impel author to write this article must be to pit nuer against each other so that there will be no unity among them which lead to the failure of accountability mechanism.
    It is the same as the previous report which was reported by the head of UNWFP in south Sudan when he claimed that Sudanese rebels who were fighting on behalf of south Sudan government are traders from north Sudan specially Darfurian. But the realty is that foreign citizen can not stay the towns has been deserted. So the idea was make rebel of Riek look bad to the world. Again why those killers agents always focus foreigners who got into the country illegally and took a side in fight and when they were killed by rebel for wrongdoing it became the focus point by UNMSS while trying to ignore the internal displace persons(the nuer ) who were killed by government supporters in Bor protection camp and even the low profile from UNMSS who tried to report the incident had minimized the number of those who were killed. He /she did bother to give the detail about the what had happened .So ,that is the same intention now by this evil, blood sucker author.

  3. Ngbanasue says:

    I teach about Darfur and South Sudan. Tragically they have become even more similar.

  4. Eli says:

    Bentiu;
    I couldn’t even finish reading your graphic detail narrative. For my eyes started tearing, so grotesgue and inhumane, but the culprits WILL account for their actions.
    May God bless these victims to testify in the Courts of Justice coming SOON.

  5. Okuc says:

    Editor,

    Would you please deny publishing article from this animal so called Guet who has no sympthy for these poor women who have been subjected to unimaginable torture at the hand of his tribemen and its Bull Militias in Unity state. I feel sick to read such piece of writing full of hatred toward any ethnic who is not Jieng even that individual is a child, a woman and old should be tortured and killed because he or she is presumed supporter of Riak Machar.
    Those who condone such barbaric acts and crime against innocent civilians should be held accountable.

  6. Bol says:

    Okuc,,
    Freedom of Speech means tolerating uncomfortable views and opinions….. Your comments make some people throw up sometimes but nobody seek silencing you. Live with it dude. This tragedy happens all the time and one wonders why is your sense of justice and fairness is so selective!

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