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In one recent high-profile incident of rapes against both locals and foreigners, UN peacekeepers failed to protect the victims.
This very particular form of violence is a huge problem – and yet there are almost no institutional mechanisms in place to prosecute those who commit it.
As the UN prepares to expand UNMISS’s mandate, it must include more female peacekeepers in the mission.
This is not a priority unique to South Sudan; less than 5% of military peacekeepers around the world are women, even though two of the WPS’s resolutions explicitly advocate that women be deployed in these missions.
But given the very gendered nature of the insecurity there and the fact that more than 60% of the country’s people are women, listening to and protecting them must be a critical priority.
An excellent way to do this would be to engage properly with South Sudanese women’s groups, which are already trying to get women a more central role in the peace process.
"We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful.Put simply, it is mainly men in uniforms (of all stripes) whom South Sudanese women have to fear, and that greatly undercuts their confidence in troops sent to keep them safe.Putting more women in peacekeeping uniforms could both cut down on abuse and build trust that’s currently just not there.South Sudan itself launched a National Action Plan for implementing the WPS agenda earlier this year, but gender relations continue to weigh heavy in the South Sudanese conflict.To change the status quo, the country and those trying to help solve its problems need to focus on three areas: gendering peacekeeping, prosecuting sexual gender-based violence, and ensuring that local women’s groups can fully participate in the peace process.