13 May 2012
Juba, South Sudan
A woman with her two-week-old baby was dragged out of her home at gun point in April at Hai-Mauna residential area over issues of domestic violence. In the process, Rose Mary Adare broke her finger as she was being flogged by the plainclothes, h armed men who were brought by the husband.
“My husband has thrown me out of the house with my kids because he has a newly wedded wife. This has been his habit, chasing women out of the house, whenever he gets a new wife”, she said. As it started raining, the woman took off with her little baby and her two older children to a makeshift shelter that was just across what used to be her home.
Michael Amule Joseph, Rose Adare's husband and the Commissioner General for the State Revenue Authority, drove off with the armed men, leaving onlookers wondering as to why a constitional post holder entrusted with a national responsibility had to drag the wife and the newly born baby out of the house at gun point.
An eye witness says the arms scared the neigbours who intended to run to the rescue of the woman. “We wanted him to calm down so that we talk to both of them”, said a neighbour.
Rose Adare had been married for a period of seven years, saying that the time has been hell on earth. “I tried complaining to my parents but they couldn’t help me out. When I approached Munuki Police station in order to help me, the police authorities advised me to settle the issues with relatives”.
Lilian Riziq, the President and Chief Execitive Officer of South Sudan Women Empowerment Network, said it is unfortunate that South Sudan does not have family laws that protect women. They are always referred to the customary courts which are normally biased against the women, putting women on the wrong side in cases of domestic violence.
A concerned citizen, who termed this a human rights violation, urged men not to behave inhumanely against their wives and children. “We are supposed to protect women but not to abuse them nor intemidate them when they say something. Why should armed men involve themselves into domestic issues? If the armed men have failed to maintain law and order, then, who will protect the civilians?”he asked.
Duku Champlian Alison, a human rights activist condemned this act. “This act of violence shall be investigated, tried in the court of law and if proved guilty the husband shall face justice”.
Rose Adare, who was forced into this marriage by her parents when she was twenty five years old, urged parents never to go against their children’s choice of marriage.
In South Sudan, some communities still have a tendency to consider girls as assets to benefit them. Some parents have always judged the qualities of a marriagable man based on wealth, while heads of cattle and exorbitant amounts of money paid as dowry have made parents trade in their girl children.
But Lona James Elia, Executive Director of Voice for Change, a civil society association advocating for the rights of women in South Sudan, said there is a need for eduacting parents about the rights of children. Parents should not only consider the importance of girls as for dowry only but also as a component of nation-building. She said there is a need of engaging the traditional chiefs and community leaders to be sensitized on the rights of children and women. “We do not want to be confrontational, but rather hold dialogues and educate them about the laws in order to change the society. Even the exisiting laws that have been enacted are never implemeted”, she added.
Lona further stated that Amule must step down from the post he is holding as the Commissioner General of the Revenue Authority because this act has proved that he is in that office by mistake.
Rose Adare adviced the young girls never to get married to men who have divorced their wives. “This has proved to me that such men have bad behavious and a tendency of abandoning their first partners. They may [have] money but [are] without love”, she said as tears streamed down her cheeks.
South Sudan Police Spokesperson Major General Biar Mading Biar says, women have the legal right to be accorded with respect and dignity. For this reason, the police have set up a department to investigate crimes against women.
Because of the armed men’s involvement in this domestic issue, the spokesperson says investigations shall be carried out to establish as to who plainclothes perpetrators were, and thereafter launch a case against them for having breached the law.
Rose Adare called upon the women human rights activits to help her speak to the father of the kids so as to take care of his children as she has nothing for the kids. Efforts to get a statement from Amule pertaining to this issue were all futile as he hung up his phone upon hearing the theme of the interview.
Yobu Annet is a South Sudan journalist and Edward R. Murrow Fellow.