Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ban Ki-Moon Calls for Meaningful Action against Assault on Women’s Rights by Violent Extremists

Ban Ki-Moon Calls for Meaningful Action against Assault on Women’s Rights by Violent Extremists as Former LRA Abductee in South Sudan struggles to cope with life after 14 years in captivity

TWS||Vincent Buruga/Nick Waigwa

In his message to the world on the 2015’s International Women’s Day, The United Nation’s Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called on the International Community to take a clear global stance against the assault on women’s rights by violent extremists.
He urged the world to translate its outrage into meaningful action saying that women have been attacked for trying to exercise their right to education and basic services; they have been raped and turned into sex slaves; they have been given as prizes to fighters, or traded among extremist groups in trafficking networks.

Meanwhile as Ban Ki-Moon called for meaningful action to be taken, including humanitarian aid, psycho-social services, support for livelihoods, and efforts to bring perpetrators to justice, a 25 year old South Sudanese woman, who returned home in 2014 from the Lord’s Resistance Army’s captivity is struggling to fend for her family in South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria State.

Iboyi Mary with her two sons in their house at Imilai Boma, Eastern Equatoria State
Vincent Buruga, a news editor with a local community radio in Eastern Equatoria State’s capital, Torit, recently visited the lady at her makeshift home in Hatire Payam to find out how she is coping with life after captivity.

Iboyi Mary from Iboto village was abducted by the Lords Resistance Army soldiers at the age of 11 in year 2000 from Hatire Payam of Ikwoto County in Eastern Equatoria state.

She recalls that the abductors accosted her and other villagers during a funeral rite event adding that most of the children abducted together with her are still at large.

Male abductees were executed at a place called Awira while elderly women including her mother and grand mother were released to go back to their respective homes.

When she returned home from captivity, Mary Iboyi had to contend with the revelation that her mother and grand mother never survived a second raid by the LRA fighters. The rebels killed the two women at a place called Molaji

Although the former abductee appreciates for the warm reception granted by the remaining members of her family upon her return from captivity, she remains worried about securing food and basic education for her children

“I wish if I could get agricultural tools,food and non-food items to sustain my family. My children need to get education, so that they can make better life in future as they don’t have their father” says Iboyi

The mother of three children, all sired by a soldier while she was still in captivity, had also thought of joining other women for a local brewing business but she lucks the necessary equipment to start the brewing business.

 “I don’t know how to get the equipment for making the local brew. Like some of the women in this village, I would make local brew to feed my family” Iboyi

LRA leader, Joseph Kony set Mary Iboyi and other widows free when their husbands were killed during a military battle in Central African Republic (CAR).

IWD: Year 2015 Vital for Advancing the Cause of Women’s Rights, Ban Ki-Moon

Mary Iboyi reveals that she and other captives were forced to get married to the LRA fighters. She identifies the man she was assigned to as Benai, a special bodyguard to LRA’s Leader Joseph Kony. She also recalls that the rebels moved with the captives to countries like Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and on some occasions back to South Sudan.

“Many of my colleague abductees were distributed to different LRA campsas wives to the fighters and we lost touch with each other until now” Recalled Iboyi

“We went to Uganda for months and returned to South Sudan to settle at Kony’s village between Aruu and Nsitu before the rebels came back in 2002 to abduct more children from Hatire. We moved from South Sudan to Uganda and then crossed back to Juba, before heading to Garamba in Democratic Republic of Congo at Kony’s command” narrated the former abductee.

The LRA fighters left Hatire with other abductees when they were ambushed at Imilai Boma by joint Uganda peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) forces, she said

Iboyi’s 14 years in captivity was characterized by constant movement similar to that of pastoralists only that the rebel’s movement was compelled most of the time by attacks on their hideouts from the UPDF and the SPLA. On days when the attacks against the rebels were intense Iboyi says they would stay for days without food.
 “We starved for months without any thing to eat and more especially when there were frequent attacks by joint forces which did not give us time to rest. While in DRCongo, we spent 4 years cultivating crops in the jungles of Garamba forest, for survival until an attack by a joint UPDF and DRC forces on our bases after the fall of Juba talks forced us to flee to the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2008” Iboyi.

Iboyi Mary with her two sons in their house at Imilai Boma, Eastern Equatoria State
Iboyi Mary told Vincent Buruga that herhusband was shot dead around the same time when she alsolosther daughter,Akang, as the rebels and captives were fleeing for safety following an outbreak of clashes in the Central African Republic where the LRA had established bases.

Mary said before her release and that of other widows of LRA fighters, Joseph Kony summoned his forces after the fighting in CAR, to Darfur and stayed in a farm he had opened tocultivate food for his forces.

“Then LRA leader went back to Central African Republic (CAR) and later to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He then ordered all widows to be allowed to go back home. We were five widows and eight children.It took us three days to reach a place inhabited by people” she said.

The LRA abductee, who has lost all her immediate family members to the LRA war,is believed to be the only abductee from Hatire who survived the longest in the hands of the abductors. Others managed to escape, many were shot dead with others disappearing without a trace.

Meanwhile, Oburak Joseph Marko, a child protection Program Manager at Caritas Torit, said the case of Iboyi Mary was referred from Child Transit Centre (CTC) on 1st Sept 2014 Western Equatoria State. 
“Iboyi Mary was rescued in August 2014 with 2 children;Olweny Kabila and OdongSolan, age 7 and 1.5 years, respectively.” Oburak Joseph Marko

Oburak said the search exercise for Iboyi Mary’s relatives took four days after which department of Child Protection at Caritas Torit immediately recommended that Iboyi Mary and her children to be reunified with her relatives.

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IWD: Year 2015 Vital for Advancing the Cause of Women’s Rights, Ban Ki-Moon


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