Victoria’s South Sudan-born Miss World contest to tackle secrecy around rape

Community leaders have applauded the courage of a South Sudan-born Miss World Australia finalist, who has spoken out about bring raped as a teenager.


Adau Mornyang told SBS News she hoped to use her ordeal to highlight the need for cultural change in response to sexual assaults.

“It is never your fault and you can never ask for rape,” she said.

“I want to shed a light on that from my community that we need to stop putting it under the rug.”

South Sudanese elders in Australia, like Kenyatta Wal, are appalled by her experience.

“My heart was broken thinking about the ordeal this young lady must have gone through, it’s heart-breaking and I am completely disgusted,” he said.

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Fellow South Sudanese elder Ambrose Mareng also commended Ms Mornyang’s actions.

“She is right to bring it up,” he told SBS News.

“Rape is not acceptable in any culture, in any system.”

Ms Mornyang, 22, is now Victoria’s Miss World Australia finalist, but there’s nothing glamorous about the story she revealed on Facebook of being raped as a teenager in Adelaide.

“This day has haunted me for six years,” she said.

While she reported the assault to police, Ms Mornyang said such was the pressure from within her own community the case was eventually dropped.

Watch: Miss World Australia finalist reveals sexual assault

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“Me being blamed for that and my community protecting the predators really affected me and being neglected by my family and by my own people affected me long-term,” she said.

White Ribbon’s executive manager of the ambassador program, Peterson Opio, said victim-blaming wasn’t isolated to any particular culture.

“This is something that we are trying to do at White Ribbon to break the silence when it comes to this issue, having more men get involved and play a proactive role in standing up and speaking out and taking action against these activities in their communities,” he said.

Mr Mareng said there needed to be less secrecy in order to “encourage those who have something happen to them whatever, to speak up”.

Ms Mornyang said she hoped to tackle the stigma around rape and sexual assault and would use her Miss Australia quest to promote awareness.

“It’s not okay because so many young girls and young women are suffering in silence, who are told to be quiet or are being blamed,” she said.

If you or someone you know needs to speak to someone about sexual assault, you can contact1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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