VOICES ON ISSUES RELATED TO DIVORCE, SECURITY AND THE SYSTEM

The following remarks are statements made during an awareness raising forum in Eastern Equatoria in August 2014.

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ON THE CONSTITUTION

“[We should] organise a conference where all the tribes sit together for open space discussion without restriction…. This is how constitutions are written in other countries…. Here they sit a few people and approve as if the nation approved. People write their interests not the interests of the society. It should be the ideas of the citizens that contribute to constitution not one person.”

“In the Constitution does it allow you to start caning someone in the community for a crime if they are 15 years and above or is there a law to stop it being done on pregnant women?”

ON THE CONSTITUTION

But this is a very common action here. Men often beat men and stubborn women – they often take the law into their own hands. Some men do not provide support to their wives and they are always drunk. The youth will organise to beat that man and teach him a lesson (caning). It works but it is not good.

“If I was the one to write the law I would say 15 years in prison. No man should beat the wife and no woman should beat her husband.”Lawyer

“From the woman’s side, who would continue to sit under someone who beats you every day? No one.”

“The law provides for the granting of divorce. When you apply for divorce the court looks at the best interest of the children… is it in their interest if the father keeps beating their mother and them? No, solution is that divorce can be granted. The wife has the right to apply for masharif (alimony).”

“Let’s say a man marries a woman while he’s working. Then he starts drinking excessively, then chases away the woman, drinking means he loses his job, nothing to pay. What will you do? Where will you report him?”  –Young lady

There is a saying there is no one who has nothing. If you have nothing at hand you have means to obtain it. If he has no mind to obtain it, go to the court to make him. If he doesn’t go and arrest him, put him in jail and release on promise of how he will pay and when. When he’s released he will run and look for something. Either a hoe, or something. There are two issues of money: one – maintenance money for children if she has them; two – alimony, which is maintenance of the wife. Alimony in particularly continues until the woman gets married to another man.”  –Lawyer

“You will pay for the rest of your life… You won’t get married again, so that you eat his money properly.”

“Our daughters in Australia, US, where, about five have done such, now they are getting money. That kind of culture should not be here…. They should not be encouraged to divorce. What god has bound no one can break.”  –Male Elder

What binds the marriage together is love, respect and good treatment of each other. It’s true the sole purpose of the law is not to break marriages but to encourage marriage, because it’s the engine of continued society. But there are situations where the love is no more there, the respect is not there, the fair treatment is not there. All ways of solving it have not worked. That’s what we call in the law: divorce is only granted when the marriage is irreversibly broken down. So it can never be repaired, and even endangers the lives of wife and husband. Do we maintain marriage or do we maintain life? Life is the most valuable and paramount property we have, we have to break marriage to preserve life. That’s the bottleneck to reduce divorce.”  –Lawyer

“I know what we presented was so harsh, and compromised, but that is the law. If a man asks you to be his wife and said that ‘I will kill you later,’ would you go?”  –Lawyer 2

“Be careful, treat your wife as you love her. And women, know your rights, tell them ‘men, I have rights like this, so be careful.’ Threaten him: ‘I will show you to court.”  –Man

ON SECURITY

“If the government is not considering your security then the government is not working.”

“My power lies in your hand and I am your voice.” –Chief

Corruption, segregation and oppression. We are being oppressed. Insecurity. Don’t forget us we are going to offer you a place to build your offices so true peace prevails. To build your kingdom here of justice in Africa ‘the who are looking to devourer your children on their way home.”  –Mzee prayer

“Sometimes when you’ve got your cassava and you’re drying it, suddenly the cattle come and eat it, how do you address that? In most cases you find the owners of the cattle are people with guns. I tried processing my cassava three times and it was all eaten. In my shape I can’t do business.”

“I am born of this soil. You know well that the war separated us from this place. We went in 1989 to Uganda. I came back in 2008. This area you are seeing here is all our place. But by now we no longer own this place. All these mango and teak trees, we are the ones who planted. We heard the law says you have the right on your land. It is so painful before God. That our people are no longer here, they feel they are still driven away by law. Even the law says you have the right to speak. For all this what makes us not have the right? All the occupants of this place are soldiers.”

“Now the soldiers are not staying in the barracks but in the villages. When we ran to Uganda and came back we found that here there is a person and when there is a small space where you want to put your tukul you are threatened by gun. When you look around you will find most people here are soldiers. We demand the soldiers are in their family in the barracks and leave the civilians free. We don’t have our rights now.”

“Every tribe, every individual is annoyed with grievances in their heart.”

ON THE JUSTICE SYSTEM

“One thing I hear and need detail on when you see a thief robbing your neighbour you can get that thief and take to the police. How will you arrest that person if they are a soldier with a gun and you are a civilian without a gun?”

“In our country some of us might have lost hope, some of us are living with hope. That’s why we’re here. We are in a legal crisis. If we lose hope the next generation will live in a country where there is no rule of law completely. Elect the people who will go and represent you in the parliament and will be accountable to you, instead of people with self-interest and not the interest of the common people like you. I’ve been running after a case for over two years now. The case was decided in the court, I won it, we went for execution, a gun was taken out; we were threatened. But we did not lose hope. The rights are written in the constitution. I will fight until I achieve it. So live with your hope.” –Lawyer

“We need to disarm the mind not just the gun – the gun is used by a mind that is used to war – once you disarm the mind there may not be use for the gun.”

“The people are innocent it is the system [justice] that is failing them – its politicised and corrupted by guns and money – the people don’t trust it.”

“Where it [rape] is resolved in marriage instead of imprisonment, justice is affected. This is the attitude of the people. Instead of being punished he wins and becomes a positive member of society for his crime.”

OTHER VOICES

  • Voices on Justice from a Justice Seminar
  • Voices from a Paralegal Workshop
  • Voices on Issues Related to Divorce, Security, the Justice System
  • REFLECTIONS ON THE IGAD PEACE PROCESS
  • VOICES FROM CIVIL SOCIETY
  • VOICES OF WOMEN IN THE PAYAMS OF JUBA

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