(RNS) — South Sudanese churches are urging local communities to accept women who have been victims of sexual violence during the country’s civil war, many of whom are returning after being kept in captivity by state and non-state forces.

Thousands of women and girls in Africa’s newest nation have suffered brutal sexual violence as armed groups employed rape as a weapon of war. Last year, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan documented 238 cases involving 1,291 victims.

Many have been rejected by their families and have become outcasts.

“As a church we are very concerned. There have been many allegations of sexual violence, and such must be taken very seriously,” Anglican Bishop Moses Deng Bol of Wau diocese told Religion News Service in a

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