Ok, but encoding mismatches still might be the source of the problem: if your (SOAP) xml prolog and/or HTTP headers end up with the wrong indication for the character encoding, it's likely you'll run into trouble somewhere. IIRC perl will use either utf-8 or latin-1 for 'high-bit' encoding.
You probably expect your XML to be in one or the other, so you need to be sure the data in it is correctly encoded. If everything else is working correctly, doing an Encode::encode() to utf-8 or latin-1 over the whole resulting XML response and a binmode() to :bytes (or possibly just a binmode to utf8 if that's what you're using) should work.
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