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AlertNet – Tuesday, 04 December 2012

Young girls hold hand painted banner

A woman’s rally in South Sudan shows the desire for women to reduce violence against women at home. Image: Trust.org

The Danish Refugee Council is raising awareness about gender based violence in the refugee camps in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State as a part of the global campaign ‘16 days of activism’. In the kick-off event, refugee youth performed a drama with a clear message: no to gender based violence and yes to education.

The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is now launching a campaign to raise awareness about gender based violence in Yusuf Batil Camp in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State. For 16 days, the camp – home to more than 35,000 refugees from Sudan’s Blue Nile State – will be full of drama plays, songs and banners conveying one important message:  No to gender based violence! The campaign is a part of the global initiative ’16 days of activism’ to end violence against women.

“We’re especially worried about some cases of sexual exploitation where young girls exchange sexual favours in order to get money or clothes”, Stefania Rigotto explains. “This is not a widespread problem yet, but we do see a negative pattern emerging. It is especially worrying because this negative coping-mechanism increases the risk of HIV/AIDS and leads to social stigmatization of the girls. Hopefully this campaign will help us to halt these recent developments”. The assessment also documented that early marriage is widespread in the camp: “It’s normal for girls to get married when they are 14-15 years old – and sometimes they are as young as 11-12 years old,” Stefania Rigotto continues . . .

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