Kiden Lukudu is a lecturer at the University of Juba, a consultant and an activist. She is a faculty member in the School of Social and Economic Studies and currently pursuing her PhD in Agricultural Economics at the University of Nairobi. Formerly, she was the program manager for Eve Organization for Women Development, one of the country's leading national women's rights organisations. She consulted with Government institutions, NGOs on safeguarding, women leadership, and gender analysis and mainstreaming. She is currently a volunteer in Amal Chariot Foundation, an organisation advocating for and empowering women and children.
Having worked in the humanitarian and government sector, it’s not presumptuous to point out that South Sudan has a challenging environment, particularly for children, women and those with disabilities. Safeguarding challenges increase the risk of harm towards these vulnerable groups.
Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (SEAH) of girls and boys, women and men, are human rights violations. SEAH is an abuse of power that can compromise the safety and protection of the organisation personnel or the beneficiaries of its programmes. It's even worse when perpetrated by those supposed to be the voice and beacon for the vulnerable. That’s why civil society organisations (CSOs) must commit to zero tolerance of any form of abuse, exploitation or harassment.
The CSOs that participated in the mentorship programme in Juba for four months, a program that the RSH South Sudan Hub ran, showed great commitment to preventing and responding to SEAH.
However, creating a safe space in South Sudan concerns more than just the CSOs. “It's not just the CSOs to combat SEAH; government institutions, communities and even churches need to understand the magnitude and effects of SEAH,'' said David Tomurosuk, safeguarding focal point of the National Youth Platform Association.
Deng Teng from Empower Youth Africa said, ‘’South Sudan has many humanitarian issues that need the collective intervention of government institutions, community-based organisations, non-governmental organisations and international non-governmental organisations. Encouraging safeguarding and safe programmes show respect to human values and preserve the dignity of survivors of SEAH.''
Preventing harm to others and improving accountability towards affected survivors of SEAH depends on cultural change and better investment in gender equality, among other attributes. The CSOs in South Sudan are definitely on the right track.