Book On Women Rights In Pursuit Of Justice Unveiled

The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of African (SIHA) has launched a research paper reflecting on the customary law and the imprisonment of women in South Sudan.

Book On Women Rights In Pursuit Of Justice Unveiled
Falling through the Cracks explores the dynamics and impact of customary and statutory legal systems on women’s human rights and the capacity of women to negotiate either or both system in pursuit of justice. [Juma John Stephen]

By Juma John Stephen

JUBA, 02 March 2013 [Gurtong] –
Titled “Falling through the Cracks,” the paper addresses traditions, practices and views related to dowry, domestic violence, divorce and adultery that perpetuate prejudice and the violation of women's rights in the country.

According to Deidre Clancy, there need to be an understanding between those working with customary and statuary laws on how these laws are affecting women on a day-to-day basis.

“The new laws that the new state of South Sudan has developed need to be implemented because there are many protections from those laws,” Clancy said.

The book was a result of research and discussion carried out in Juba, Wau and Rumbek.

According to their findings, a large number of women were imprisoned because they had bridged a number of prohibitions.

Access to legal support is a fundamental problem that prolonged women’s detainment and perpetuates the uncertainty that comes with many of their prison sentences.

Over the past half-century, the women of South Sudan have carried the burden of violent conflict and the accompanying disintegration of their communities as well as endured the agony of displacement and life in refugee and displaced camps.

The SIHA Chairperson, Dolly Aneto Dwon said the objective is to set out possible avenues of action and progress.

“The book will help a lot in the fight for violence in South Sudan, since we need to more ahead,” Aneto said “We don’t talk of protecting women, we talk about women and men working together, a man and a woman should co-exist equally.”

There is no fixed solution to the problems faced by the women in South Sudan, different actors and stakeholders can exert influence on the system through a variety of approaches.

The women remain resolute in the face of racism, discriminatory policies and attitudes during the 39 years of the civil war that plagued the Sudan, striving to earn a living and sustain their families and communities amid extreme hardships.

The book dwelt on dowry which lies at the heart of social and cultural dynamic, as well as livelihood and basic survival. It is the cornerstone of the marriage bond and the creation of new social relationships aimed at increasing the wealth of the community and reducing the possibility of conflict.

The book is to shed light on women’s human rights in the newly independent nation and to call attention to the thousands of women who are adversely affected through their engagement with the current customary and statuary legal system.

Falling through the Cracks explores the dynamics and impact of customary and statutory legal systems on women’s human rights and the capacity of women to negotiate either or both system in pursuit of justice.

The complexities of the parallel system ostensibly see women falling in between the two; struggling to find justice in either. It identifies key issues inclusive of dowry, early and forced marriage, domestic violence, existing cultural prejudices and patriarchy alongside a customary system which fails to fully recognize the human rights of women and a statutory system which is still in development and is alien to the vast majority of South Sudanese as major obstacles in attaining justice for women.

The paper is a part of the SIHA’s project which aspires to address the impact of specific traditional practices and concepts on women’s human rights across Horn of Africa countries. 

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