Violence perpetrated against women and girls in war-torn South Sudan is among the highest in the world and twice the global average, a new report released here has revealed.

According to a survey conducted by the International Rescue Committee charity and George Washington University's Global Women's Institute, armed conflict and displacement in South Sudan has intensified violence against women and girls in Africa's youngest nation.

The report says up to 65 per cent of those interviewed in three regions in the East African nation, which became an independent nation in 2011 but descended into civil war in 2013, have experienced either sexual or physical violence in their lifetime. It says the most common form of violence reported was abuse within the home, committed by husbands or partners.

According to the report, about 33 per cent of the women surveyed in Rumbek, a rural town away from the capital, Juba, and those living under United Nations' protection of civilian sites (POCs) in Bentiue and Juba said they had experienced sexual violence from a non-partner, with many incidents directly related to a raid, displacement or abduction.

In the three sites where the household survey was conducted, a total of 2,728 individuals were interviewed: 2,244 women and 481 men. Overall household response rates were 87 per cent for women and 86 per cent for men. Individual response rate was 89 per cent for women and 86 per cent for men, according to a summary of the report.

David Miliband, the chief executive officer of the International Rescue Committee, said the finding reveals the shocking scale of violence against women and girls in South Sudan, with abuse starting early and continuing throughout much of women's adult lives.

"This important research shows that we need to rethink the threats that women and girls face in conflict zones. Not only are they at risk of attack from armed men and gangs but, tragically, they are at risk within their own homes, from partners and family members," Miliband said.

According to the United Nations, gender-based violence (GBV) is persistent and a serious problem in South Sudan as 98 per cent of GBV incidents reported in South Sudan in 2016 affected women and girls.

The UN said gender-based violence includes acts such as rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, forced and early marriage that affect women, girls, boys and men.

It said GBV has been fueled by decades of armed conflict, social, cultural and economic factors.

South Sudan has been embroiled in more than three years of conflict which has taken a devastating toll on the people, and creating one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 between the rival leaders under UN pressure led to the establishment of a transitional unity government in April, but was shattered by renewed fighting in July 2016.

The UN estimates that about 4 million people have been displaced both internally and externally.

Source: National News Agency

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