A mother's impossible choice: risk rape to feed your family, or starve

Updated 10:51 AM ET, Fri August 3, 2018

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CNN is committed to covering gender inequality wherever it occurs in the world. This story is part of As Equals, a year-long series.

Juba, South SudanOn a dirt path dotted with bright-red bougainvillea, women in ankle-length dresses gather in groups of five or more before venturing into the forest.
Right outside the largest refugee camp in Juba, South Sudan's capital, sickles readied in their hands to cut firewood, the women say banding together offers a tiny sense of security, a little protection and the reassurance that if something happens to them inside the forest one of them might escape to tell someone.
In four or five hours, they'll be back at the camp, one of them says.
"If God is willing," another adds.
In the five years of South Sudan's civil war, 1.9 million have fled to camps within the country, where the UN provides physical protection as well as food rations amidst an ongoing famine.
South Sudanese women wait for others to join on the way to the forest to get firewood.
To cook the food rations, firewood must be collected -- a task that falls to the women.
    "If you're in the forest to collect firewood and the soldiers see you, they will rape you," Nykeer Mut, the women's leader of one of the camp's zones,