The Silence of South Sudanese Women: Social Risks in Talking about Experiences of Sexual Violence

Citation:

Tankink, Marian. 2013. “The Silence of South Sudanese Women: Social Risks in Talking about Experiences of Sexual Violence.” Culture, Health & Sexuality 15 (3/4): 391–403.

Author: Marian Tankink

Abstract:

In South Sudan, it is rare for someone to speak about sexual violence. According to the South Sudanese, it can be dangerous to talk — there will be social consequences and talking can destroy you. In this paper, I describe some of the impediments women from South Sudan experience when they try to share their experienced sexual violence with significant others by describing a specific case. The main coping strategy for most South Sudanese women is to keep their experiences secret to protect themselves. The health and health-seeking behaviour of South Sudanese women are influenced by cultural notions of coping with a taboo as strong as sexual violence. I will show that the women's silence is the result of a complex and dynamic reality in the women's everyday lives. The women often experience considerable tension between the dominant public cultural ideas and their private experiences and personal notions. I conclude with a discussion about how women's silence should be respected and the trauma addressed metaphorically to avoid unwanted or uncontrolled social consequences. What is most at stake for the South Sudanese women is the prevention of further humiliation or social exclusion in their everyday lives as a result of sexual violence.

Topics: Gender, Women, Sexual Violence, SV against women Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: South Sudan

Year: 2013

© 2017 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.