by Julius Gale
JUBA, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Violence perpetrated against women and girls in war-torn South Sudan is among the highest in the world and twice the global average, a new report released on Wednesday reveals.
According to a survey conducted by the International Rescue Committee charity and the George Washington University's Global Women's Institute, armed conflict and displacement has intensified violence against women and girls in South Sudan.
The report says up to 65 percent of those interviewed in three regions in the east African nation had experienced either sexual or physical violence in their lifetime.
It says the most common form of violence reported was abuse within the home, committed by husbands or partners.
According to the report, about 33 percent of the women surveyed in Rumbek, a rural town away from the capital, Juba, and those living in UN protection of civilian sites (POCs) in Bentiue and Juba said they had experienced sexual violence from a non-partner, with many incidents directly related to a raid, displacement or abduction.
In the three sites where the household survey was conducted, a total of 2,728 individuals were interviewed: 2,244 women and 481 men. Overall household response rats were 87 percent for women and 86 percent for men. Individual response rate was 89 percent for women and 86 percent for men, according to a summary of the report.
David Miliband, CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said the finding reveals the shocking scale of violence against women and girls in South Sudan, with abuse starting early and continuing throughout much of women's adult lives.
"This important research shows that we need to rethink the threats that women and girls face in conflict zones. Not only are they at risk of attack from armed men and gangs but, tragically, they are at risk within their own homes, from partners and family members," Miliband said.
According to the United Nations, gender-based violence (GBV) is persistent and a serious problem in South Sudan as 98 percent of GBV incidents reported in South Sudan in 2016 affected women and girls.
The UN said gender-based violence includes acts such as rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, forced and early marriage that affect women, girls, boys and men.
It said GBV has been fueled by decades of armed conflict, social, cultural and economic factors.
South Sudan has been embroiled in more than three years of conflict that has taken a devastating toll on the people, and creating one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.
A peace deal signed in August 2015 between the rival leaders under UN pressure led to the establishment of a transitional unity government in April, but was shattered by renewed fighting in July 2016.
The UN estimates that about 4 million people have been displaced both internally and externally.