My husband just posted this important read. Here’s the post and the link.
Self-determination for Women in the Republic of South Sudan Means: Freedom from Rape and Forced Marriages
Notwithstanding the fact that the right of Self-Determination (SD) is a group right in the nascent Republic of South Sudan (RoSS), its meaningful enjoyment is through individual human persons within a definite socio-cultural human groups in the RoSS, and also within the framework of existing religious, social and cultural values. When there is rampant and consistent frustration of the efforts of the human persons within specific socio-cultural human groups in the RoSS; in enjoying the benefits accruing from the said values in a harmonious, dignified, peaceful, and positive fashion, then, we are justified in saying that, those socio-cultural human groups, and through their members, have been denied the right of SD, and there must therefore be some legal (legislative, judicial), administrative, and executive remedies, to restore these socio-cultural human group to their socio-cultural equilibria, so that, there is universal peace and order.
When others opt to stay away from cruel states; such human persons may have taken such drastic decisions due to a conundrum of reasons that are both subjective and objective, at law and in fact. Humanity has endowed the women of the RoSS with many rights and freedoms which sanctity cannot be violated in order to enforce various duties and obligations associated with being nationals of the RoSS. For example, humanity has endowed the women of the RoSS with the right to life that cannot be violated so that they are properly construed as being nationals of the RoSS. In other words, at the personal and individual level, and without any legal justification elucidated by a court of law (for example treason), human life cannot be threaten in order to uphold the right of being a national. The RoSS for example, does not own the lives of the women therein; so that it can dispense of such lives as it wishes. Why? Humanity comes before nationality.
Humanity also endows the women of the RoSS with dignity and integrity. These two natural and human values associated with the characteristics of the women of the RoSS; and for the reason of they being humans, are so important that, almost all sane human persons are ready to defend so vehemently that, at times, they are willing to sacrifice their right to life in order to let their love ones live in life of dignity and integrity. Human persons have also renounced their political and geographical nations for reasons connected with the violation of their human dignity and integrity. This indicated that, humanity comes before nationality.
Women of South Sudan
If you look around in a very careful fashion, you will also realise that, humanity means freedom from all forms of discrimination. Those who are well versed in the discipline of history will concur with my layman’s knowledge that, Europe was reduced to rubbles between 1939 to 1945 due to unscrupulous policies pursued by some selfish European leaders and who predicated their policies that led to the European and indeed world cataclysm on nationalism where nationality came before humanity. Europe had to learn through human tragedy that, humanity always came before nationality.
However you want to define nationality whether based on racial, political, or geographical variables, humanity always comes before nationality. This should be so if we want to avoid the inhumane consequences of the Second World War in the tortured RoSS. It is also true that, humanity means freedom from torture in the form of rape and forced marriage; and all forms of degrading treatment. Torture and degrading treatment can be practiced on a person or a group of persons through physical; social; cultural; political; religious; psychological; economical; financial; and technological processes and formations/infrastructures.
To subject the women of the RoSS to such heinous treatment, the party perpetrating the crimes is also engaging in the process of separating the victims from their humanity to the extent that, the victims are forced to disown their humanity therefore accepting a position in society that shall always continue to negate their humanity. When this happens, the victims are utterly dehumanised, and brutalised and isolated from human reason. Such human persons shall never be able to distinguish between just and unjust state of affairs because, they have been conditioned through dehumanisation processes to appreciate the inhuman position they have been relegated to as being a normal socio-political; economic/financial; cultural and technological roles that they have been destined to play by nature (however you define nature).
It is also reasonable to view humanity as being the process or state of belongingness and ownership/authorship of decisions and decision-making processes. A human person or a group of human persons who do not experience such processes of ownership/authorship shall always continue to consider themselves as being outsiders and they shall always continue to value their humanity before nationality. Having scantly discussed selected variables of inhumanity in the RoSS; and their implicit and explicit ramifications, it is instructive to also scantly discuss some issues related to the notion of nationality. Nationality is a choice of association notwithstanding colonial consequences in many Third World countries. It is also considered a process or processes of political consensus. It can also at times become coercive. It is a socio-political construct with no natural basis safe for the natural resources found in so demarcated geographical territories.
The above discussion points to many issues that cannot be addressed in this short article for reasons of space only. However, it is obvious that, this article raises many issues that are relevant to the RoSS. We need to recognise that, the human persons in the RoSS come before the political and geographical entity we call the RoSS. The existence of this entity we call the RoSS is a function of the general happiness, confidence, trust and love among and between the humanity called the peoples of the RoSS. This humanity is the crucible in which the entity called the RoSS shall be sustained and defended. Therefore, is it a safe; moral; dignified; prudent; and reasonable political option to predicate the notion of a nation/country upon international and external pressures than the natural national processes of positive human; socio-cultural intercourse imbued with love; respect; and positive reciprocity?
The RoSS has arrived at political cross roads where a positive political philosophy is overdue. Such a philosophy ought to be drained of politics of emotions that many a so-called liberators in the RoSS continue to blind us with. We reject to be blinded by politics of emotions, whether they are religious; sectarian; tribal; racial; ethnic; secular; or whatever emotions. The RoSS is in a dire need of continuous principled and reasoned political path such. This approach shall look at the people of the RoSS as humans before they become Bari; Dinka; Morro: Shilluk: Nuer; etc. One can say with absolute certainty that, unless such a philosophy is adopted in the nascent RoSS’s national body polity, we shall continue to chase an illusive national unity that shall continue to evade us to our aggregate detriment. The RoSS does not need short-term solutions approach to our perennial political problems. A philosophy imbued with humanity approach to our national political development and discourse is a more objective approach that does not depend on some subjective issues of tribalism or religion. Let us start from the original state of being humans and then work our way to the 21st Century. I strongly appeal to our political leaders of all backgrounds to approach the various political issues of the RoSS using this approach that puts the issue of nationality as a function of humanity that we ought to protect. If we stick to this philosophy of humanity first, I can assure you that, all those unhappy humanity in the RoSS shall be more than willing to forgo their lives in order to defend the unity; integrity; sovereignty; and independence of the RoSS. Put nationality before humanity and we have a perennial political instability in this tortured RoSS.
This universal peace and order is the basis for human co-existence in a multi-tribal and multi-ethnic; culturally/socially heterogeneous human society like that found in the RoSS. In all known human groups, and throughout all the eras of human history, the family, and the institution of marriage have been the most sacred institutions through which, a human society, notwithstanding its civilizational stage of development and sophistication, expresses and secures its most treasured human value, right and privilege, and that is, the processes of reproduction and procreation. This entails that, throughout all human groups, the female members of the groups occupy a unique, respected and protected position, to secure an ordered society. Human beings have gone to war at groups’ level to protect their female members. At the individual level, human persons have killed others to protect the honour and the safety of the female members of their families.
It is a also a fact that, throughout human history, the female members of human groups have been used to humiliate, demoralise, defeat, extinguish, hurt, injure, disfigure, and destabilise other human groups. In short, human conflict can be kept alive forever by continuous violation of the female members of various human groups. If another human group decides, and as a group policy, backed up by the force of arms, to systematically and forcibly reproduce human beings through forced marriages and rapes, what this perpetrating and culpable relatively powerful human group is doing vis-à-vis the victim of this heinous acts is that, it is systematically engaged in cultural genocide, a process intended to destroy the victim human group in whole or in part.
That is a crime against humanity, and is subject to what is known as ‘Universal Jurisdiction’ vis-à-vis national and international law. This means that, any legitimate member of the international community (State) can arrest, prosecute and punish convicted individuals responsible for such heinous crimes against humanity. This is a crime that affects the human race as a whole and it is not being condoned by all civilised human societies. In the RoSS; there has occurred and continue to occur; the most appalling crimes against humanity in which, hundreds if not thousands of women have been subjected to cruel, humiliating, and degrading acts and omissions in which, their integrity, dignity and personhood has been undermined and diminished through forced reproduction by way of forced marriages and rapes, perpetrated upon them by senior commanders/officials; of various armed groups; and officers/officials and soldiers of the RoSS; now and during the last two decades of carnage and societal destruction.
These criminals have succeeded in inflicting permanent injuries and hurt upon these women, their families and friends, their clans, villages/towns, tribes, and the RoSS as a nation. They must not be allowed to walk free and accepted back as heroes of SD and the civil strife, which destroyed the lives of these women. These criminal acts and omissions have occurred and continue to occur all over the RoSS and the enormity and intensity of anger currently prevailing in the RoSS is unimaginable. You cannot easily sign away these crimes in an agreement between two belligerents; or just apologise them away as collateral damages; as some senior people in the RoSS are doing; and would like to do in future. These are living crimes; with living victims; who demand living justice. This is known as Self-Determination. Unless these and other crimes committed by the criminals belonging to armed groups in the RoSS; and the officers/officials and soldiers of the RoSS are investigated, one does not know what good it is talking about the benefits of SD, if it is these tyrants who are in fact ruling in the RoSS are allowed to enjoy their lives as if they were honourable citizens of the RoSS..
Can these ruling tyrants in fact and at law be considered as guardians of peace, security, unity, human rights and human dignity in the RoSS? SD does not mean possessing a territory in which you can roam and commit untold; unconscionable; and unimaginable criminal acts and omissions. It means more than that. If some of these rulers with blood stained hands think that they will continue to force themselves on the peoples of RoSS, then, they are living in political fantasy. There is a legal (Equitable Maxim) that says, ‘he who comes to equity must come with cleans hands’. In the case of RoSS, it means that, those individuals who have elevated themselves to the positions of war heroes and liberators of the peoples of the RoSS; and demanding equality and equity vis-à-vis the international community; and such like; it means that, before they claim the right of permanently ruling the peoples of the RoSS; they must be seen to be according the same right to those poor souls under their control and jurisdiction. If this is put to exhaustive legal analyses, one is sorry to say that, there will be no legally fit human person to receive the honours and be raised to pedestals of peoples’ heroes in the RoSS.
In the case of the RoSS women in particular, SD means freedom from forced reproduction through rapes and forced marriages. You cannot call women living in any geographical location free, if they are subjected to these heinous criminal acts and omissions from whomever in society, let alone from those purporting to be their liberators. What a sick joke to boast that you are a liberator who goes about raping and forcing women into illegal unions. What a debased system of governance if individuals who cannot distinguish between rape and marriage are in charge. What a flawed claim to political right to participate in ruling people if that right is being used as an instrument of tribal and cultural torture; and an efficient tool for commission of cultural genocide vis-à-vis other tribes who are not fortunate to belong to bigger tribal groups.
What legitimacy is relied on by armed groups and others ruling the RoSS; that divide the RoSS into economic spheres of influence and control, in which, their tribal herdsmen go on rampage with their livestock, living raped women and girls in their trail as happened and continue to happen in many places in the RoSS. These are not the kind of rulers who can protect the right of SD in the RoSS. If this can happen now while the RoSS is so young so to speak; what will be the situation when, the so called liberation fighters are in absolute and total control of the RoSS through tribalism. I do not want to speculate on the degree of misery that may ensue, but the raw data are there for one to draw tentative conclusions. It is our duty; that is; all of us peace loving people; to enlighten the peoples of the RoSS at large, about the benefits and dangers of SD; especially when the instruments of power are in dangerous hands. The peoples of the RoSS must also know that, the right of SD means more than secession, which is not the central issue of this important right.
The essence of SD is concentrated freedoms; and which include freedoms from rape and forced marriage. What is the use of having an independent country; if more than half of the population of such a country; are not free from the cruelty of the fear from rape and forced marriages. Can such women consider themselves and their daughters free in such a country? Can such women who are subjected to such heinous crimes pay true allegiance to those who imposed themselves on them as rulers and torturers? What use is an independent country if the women therein cannot celebrate the glory of womanhood and their femininity in the fashion that nature ordained for them, and that include the joy of motherhood; secured via consent through marriage in a humanly ordered polity and society? What kind of a society is that which wants half of its members to enjoy their membership within the remit of repugnant and extinguishing human wrongs, which comprehensively undermine their human rights and humanity?
In case it is not clear to many human persons and groups in the RoSS, we need to remind ourselves that, our being humans comes before our being political and geographical nationals of respective countries in this unfair socio-political world. Human persons can opt out of specific political and geographical nationalities, but they cannot opt out of humanity. The quality of a woman’s nationality and the degree how she enjoys and appreciates her nationality is a function of the quality of human life she leads in a given nation at given space and time. The world is awash with human persons who have opted out of many political and geographical nations categorised in national and international law as the country of origin/birth. This being the case; why subject the women of the RoSS to such agonies and humiliations simply because they are nationals of the RoSS?
By Prof. Wani Tombe, 22/09/201