‘I’d rather starve’

Women in South Sudanese refugee camps face rape on a daily basis, reports find

A girl carries firewood in Ganyiel village in South Sudan. (SAMIR BOL/AFP/Getty Images)

Women at the largest refugee camp in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, say they risk being raped, kidnapped, or killed everyday when they go to collect the firewood they need to cook and feed themselves and their families. Based on interviews conducted by the U.N., it’s estimated that 70 percent of women living in such Sudanese camps have been raped.

“If you’re in the forest to collect firewood and the soldiers see you, they will rape you. But what are we supposed to do?” said Nykeer Mut, the women’s leader of one of the camp’s zones, noting that since collecting firewood is considered women’s work, no men would agree to do it for themselves.

The day she was raped, Mut said, she was with her 10-year-old daughter and a group of women when the soldiers suddenly jumped out of the tall grass. While many of the women escaped to safety, her daughter was easily caught by the soldiers.

“I couldn’t leave my daughter,” Mut recalled. So she turned back for her, and the soldiers raped her instead while forcing the 10-year-old to watch. Christine Ayoo, the head of the International Rescue Committee Center, said such attacks were a daily occurance.

“It’s not just rape,” she added. “We even have kidnappings and killings.”

Mut says neither she nor her daughters dare venture outside the camp, and that they use her meager savings to buy firewood from those who do. Asked whether she’d go to collect firewood again after her money runs out, she replied: “I’d rather starve.”

Read the full story at CNN.

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