Abyei criminalizes women sleeping in hotels

Hotel room in South Sudan/file photo

The Abyei Administrative Area has restricted females from sleeping in hotels. The Abyei municipality issued a local order on Thursday, September 16, 2021.

Area administration says women and girls will not get accommodation in hotels unless one has a marriage certificate.

According to the Abyei government’s spokesperson, the move is to preserve community norms and values that do not allow single women to sleep in hotels.

John Ajang Kiir, the spokesperson, said the order permits female visitors to stay alone in their rooms. He warned the hotel owners of consequences for violating the directive.

“We want our females to respect themselves because it has been seen that our girls and some women use hotels, and that is not the reason for hotels to be in town, community leaders including women and youth have agreed with this order,” said John Ajang in an interview with Mayardit FM.

According to John Ajang, the directive will also help curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

“It is also good security for the community. The plan will reduce some diseases that affect people through sexual,” he stated.

Some youth in the area welcomed the order and urged the government to implement it. They claimed that many girls get impregnated by those staying in the hotels.

“We have our own country, which is good for us to have hotels, but people should not take it as a place that you can take someone’s wife to and someone’s daughter. I appreciate the government and the community because sometimes it does not please someone the way people are using hotels. I like the idea,” said one woman in support of the order.

“I am a woman, and I like the order. My message is that when you see a visitor in your home, please welcome her, let her sleep because you will remember the order. This is the message to the people of Abyei.” She added.

The government promised to form a committee to identify female travelers and arrest those that would violate the order.

Several NGO workers in the area stay in the hotel during their fieldwork. It’s not clear whether this directive will affect them or not. The implementation of the order would be effective on Monday next week.

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