“Former LRA Victims Still Rejected by their Communities,” Uganda Radio Network, 3 Dec. 2010
By James Owich Ochora
A group of women, who were abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army when they were teenagers, say reintegration into their societies is a hard and arduous task. They say they are shunned by their families and stigmatized by their communities because of their perceived role in the rebellion.
It is not known exactly how many girls the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) abducted during its protracted war in northern Uganda. The number ranges anywhere from 2,500 to 5,000.
Most of the girls, who were prepubescent youth or teenagers at the time of their abduction, were forced to become sexual slaves of LRA fighters. Those who managed to escape returned with children. They came back traumatized and hardened by the war.
Amoi is a young woman in her early 20s who bore three children while in captivity. She is still fearful of retribution for the war and only identifies herself by her middle name.
Amoi says that when she returned to Uganda in 2002 she expected a warm welcome from her family. She says she was shocked by what awaited her. She was banished from the family land in Lira and is now forced to rent a small plot of land to grow food for her young family.
Amoi says her situation was desperate for several years. She only received a break recently when she obtained a loan from a micro finance organization.
Amoi is a member of Gen Obanga, an association formed by former LRA abductees.
Another member, who requests anonymity, says that like Amoi, she too has no access to land to build a house or cultivate. She says she and her children were rejected by their Bungatira sub-county in Gulu and are forced to live on handouts.
She says her children are regularly the subject of ridicule in her village and she cannot escape the shame of her captivity by the LRA.
The stories of the two women are included in a new compilation called ‘Ododo Wa.’ The compilation is a project of the Our Stories Program, which is documenting the experiences of women in captivity.
Ketty Anyeko, the program officer, says ‘Ododo Wa’ was initiated to give prominence to unrecorded experiences of war. She says that through the stories, the plight of the LRA victims will receive national prominence and cause a meaningful debate on post-war recovery.
Anyeko says it is hoped that the project will also encourage affected communities to reconcile with the victims and aggressors of the war.