A multiplied threat
The number of women and girls in South Sudan who face sexual and physical violence is double the global average, the International Rescue Committee said in a joint report with George Washington University’s Global Women’s Institute. Up to 65 percent of women interviewed reported experiencing either sexual or physical violence, and most of the violence occurred within the home.
The report said women living in UN civilian protection sites in the capital city of Juba are most vulnerable to attacks. Some of the women said they found men sleeping and waiting for them when they went out at night to queue up at the distribution point. “They surrounded us,” they said. “They have guns, knives, sticks, and pangas [machetes].”
South Sudan’s civil war, which began in 2013, has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced another 4 million. The breakdown of the rule of law in South Sudan means perpetrators usually go unpunished. “If there is ever going to be long-term peace in South Sudan, violence against women and girls must be addressed, and women must have a seat at the table in finding solutions,” said Mary Ellsberg, director of the Global Women’s Institute. —O.O.
Sentenced to silence
An appeals court in Vietnam last week upheld a blogger’s 10-year prison sentence. Authorities in June convicted Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh of spreading propaganda by defaming the Communist regime in her Facebook posts. Quynh, also known by her pen name Me Nam, or Mother Mushroom, co-founded a network of bloggers in Vietnam. She wrote about human rights violations and civilian deaths in the country. Earlier last week, another Vietnamese court sentenced activist Nguyen Van Hoa to seven years in prison for producing videos and interviews on a Taiwanese factory’s toxic waste spill that led to an environmental disaster. U.S. Charge d’Affaires Caryn McClelland said Quynh is one of six people convicted this year for exercising their rights. “The trend of increased arrests, convictions, and harsh sentences of peaceful activists and students since early 2016 is deeply troubling,” she said. —O.O.
Lost at sea
The Argentine navy ended the search for 44 crew members of a submarine 15 days after it went missing at sea. Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said the search for the submarine will continue, but it is no longer considered a rescue mission. “More than double the number of days it would have been possible to rescue the crew have passed,” Balbi told reporters.
The ARA San Juan submarine went missing Nov. 15 after the captain reported water entered the snorkel, the navy said. Hours after the captain said he contained the problem, an explosion went off near the submarine’s location. Balbi said ships, aircraft, and personnel from 18 countries aided in the search. Relatives and friends of the missing crew members protested the end of the search and demanded more details on the submarine. —O.O.
The massive truck bombing that rocked Somalia’s capital in October killed more than 500 people, an official committee said in a final tally of casualties. The committee’s report said 512 people died and another 312 sustained injuries in the country’s worst terror attack. Some 62 people remain missing. On Oct. 14, bombs that officials said weighed between 1,300 and 1,700 pounds struck a crowded street in Mogadishu. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but authorities blamed al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab. Early estimates said more than 350 people died. —O.O.