Forced into a Pit and Whipped for Refusing to Have Sex While Pregnant; SCOTS CHARITY HELP WOMEN TO ESCAPE APPALLING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN SUDAN SCOTS CHARITY HELP WOMEN TO ESCAPE APPALLING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN SUDAN
Byline: Paul O'Hare
THE Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) are one of Scotland's leading international aid agencies and provides vital help to some of the poorest people in the world, regardless of their religion.
Founded in 1965, SCIAF now work in 16 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Nearly half a million people affected by conflict, hunger, and HIV and AIDS benefited from SCIAF's long-term aid and development projects in 2010.
At home, SCIAF address the causes of global poverty and injustice, such as unfair trade, debt and climate change.
SCIAF have worked in Sudan since 1986 and opened their first overseas office in Juba, the southern capital, in 2007.
They help some of the most vulnerable, including women, the disabled and war victims.
HEAVILY pregnant Zelpa Repent feared she would suffer another miscarriage as the whip cracked down for the 10th time.
She had already lost a baby after being beaten senseless with a stick on her own home. Now the 30-year-old had been forced to lie in a pit to be whipped by a tribal chief.
Her offence? Refusing to have sex with her husband while pregnant.
The punishment was the culmination of a relentless campaign of domestic violence during which husband Mustafa, 40, put his wife in hospital three times - once with a broken leg. But despite the horrors she endured, the brave mum gave birth to daughter Afya - which means "forgiveness" - two months later.
And since then, Zelpa's life has been transformed by the Mundri Relief and Development Association.
The inspirational project is funded by SCIAF, one of Scotland's leading international aid agencies.
It provides counselling and workshops for victims of physical, mental and sexual abuse in the home.
And it is challenging the culture of impoverished South Sudan, where women have long been treated as second-class citizens.
Zelpa told the Record the violence started within months of her wedding in 2001.
She said: "My husband used to beat me with a large stick and chase me with a panga (machete).
"He would shout 'I will kill you! I will kill you' and I had to run into the bush to escape him. He beat me so bad that I had to abort my first child. And one time he broke my left leg after he hit me with a stick."
The violence came to a head one night in 2007.
Zelpa recalled: "When I was seven months pregnant with my second child my husband tried to rape me. I told him I was heavy and said 'How can I sleep with you?' He then started beating me."
The incident was reported to the tribal chief in Lanyi town - by Mustafa.
A hearing was called and Zelpa, who had a swollen face, appeared before the "court".
She said: "The chief told me, 'This is your husband. Why do you refuse yourself? Even if you are heavy he has to sleep with you'."
He refused to listen to Zelpa and ruled she should be punished.
Zelpa said: "The next thing they started digging a hole for me to lie on and put my bump in. …