Source: Sudan Tribune
A South Sudanese women group are pushing for the inclusion of family laws in the young nation's new constitution, highlighting the rise in radical voices advocating equality.

The group, according to Lona James Elia, executive director for Voice of Change, an organisation which advocates for women's rights, want the revised constitution to clearly state that all South Sudanese, regardless of sex, social status, are equal and to repeal provisions under the bill of rights which makes no clear statement about women rights.

The transitional constitution, which was introduced in July 2011 when South Sudan seceded from Sudan as part of a peace deal that ended decades of civil war, does not include any strong language protecting rights for women.

South Sudan has a 30-member panel drawing up amendments to the constitution which is soliciting public opinions about what the constitution should include.

"Women have paid a high price during the war and until now. They must reap the fruits of their participation in all the national undertakings and feel the change", Elia said in a weekly women's forum broadcast on state-owned South Sudan Television on Saturday.

"Yes, there are a good number of women in the present cabinet but the processes of selection were never inclusive. Consultations were never carried out properly because women knows who they can nominate", the activist said.

South Sudan's ruling party has stated that it wants to appoint women to at least 25% of all public positions but often fails to reach this goal.

Women's group's like Voices for Change are lobbying the parliament and the public to ensure family law, specifically an act giving women the right to divorce their husbands and custody of any children from the marriage.

"Women are deluding themselves into believing that their safety lies with men as absolute protectors of their rights," she said.

"These are some of the traditions which we need to be seen with clear lenses in the constitutions. Some customs are discriminatory to women", she added.

Elia also wants the age of consent for marriage to be raised to around 23 or 25 years old, arguing girls that girls at the age of 18 "remain very young" considering that in South Sudanese culture they are supposed to take complete responsibility for the household.

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