Archive for June 29th, 2012

 I came across this article in the  NewVision, Uganda’s  National Newspaper of 18 September 2011. I felt compelled to share it with my audience for them to understand the silence suffering of women in conflict and post conflict settings. This article brought out the gender dynamics of conflicts which are always under looked in post conflict recovery and development programmes.

THEY CALL ME MOTHER OF REBELS CHILDREN. At nine years of age in 1994, Christine Aol was on her way from school when the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels abducted her .From her home area in Patongo in present day Agago district, the rebels walked with her across valleys, woodlands and forests, until she could not even guess where they were.

Her first assignment in the bush was to kill a boy who had been caught trying to escape.” I was forced to hold a panga, cut off the boy’s head and hold it in my hand” says Aol.

The LRA immediately assigned her to a rebel fighter as a wife .Every day, Aol wanted to return home, but she feared the repercussions. She bore two children with the rebel fighter before she got a chance to escape in 2004 during heavy fighting between the army and the LRA.

But life after escape was not easy .Her neighbours often referred to her as the mother of a rebel’s children. Aol’s mother, Rose Anono, tried to send her away because she did not want to live with rebels’ children .However; she changed her mind after being counseled at Patongo Youth Centre, a local charity helping former LRA fighters re-integrate into the community. ‘Even then, the old woman often reverts to her old attitude. When mother gets angry, she tells me to take the children back to their father in the bush “, says Aol.

To make matters worse, she cannot find a man to marry. In this part of the country, it is rare for a man to marry a woman who has produced two children. It s million times more difficult if those children were fathered by a rebel .Men fear that ex-abductees became violent in the bush or might have contracted HIV from the rebels.

Like Aol, many girls are still suffering from the pains of war .According to the United  Nation as estimates, about 10,000 girls became child mothers when the LRA abducted them between 1988 and 2004.Another 88,000 girls, who were not abducted, became child mothers due to the conditions in internally  displaced people’s camps.

Alice Achiro, 24, was abducted in the 2000 on her way to collect fire wood.

‘I was forced to kill and remove the heart of a woman who tried to escape. I was also forced to have sex with a rebel .By the time I escaped, I had three children” she says .But her parents did not allow her back to their home in Palenga, Gulu district. Eventually, she became a sex worker.

Another former abducted, Annette Akello, 31, escaped in 2004 after 15 years in the bush .By then,she had four children fathered by a rebel .On reaching her home village in Padibe ,Kitgum district ,She found both her parents dead.”All her relatives, including other members of the community chased her away ‘, recalls Simon Odwee, an LC1 chairman of Padibe village in Kitgum district.

Akello then went to a bush and strangled all her children before hanging herself.

Such is the suffering of girls who were abducted, forced to sleep with rebels, turned into mothers at a tender age and then rejected by their own p

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