Ex-LRA women demand apology, Observer, 31 May 2012

Ex-LRA women demand apology, Observer, 31 May 2012


By Alex Otto

Gulu – Former LRA fighters who have since returned from the bush should apologise to the women whose rights they violated during the insurgency in northern Uganda, a meeting here has heard.

During the launch of the Women Advocacy Network (WAN) at Gulu’s Churchill Courts hotel, Evelyn Amony, who was in LRA captivity between 1994 and 2005, spoke of the pain of seeing her former tormentors moving freely yet they have never sought forgiveness.

“These men gave us children, raped and forcefully abducted us and they also made us experience pain at a very young age. Some of us are here struggling with life because of them but they don’t care about us,” Amony said.

WAN has membership of over 200 women from the Acholi sub-region, many of them carrying traumatic and physical scars of an LRA insurgency that has since migrated to DR Congo and Central African Republic. The issue of reconciliation between perpetrator and victim of war is a thorny one, complicated by the paradox that many of the former were themselves abducted by the LRA and brutalised into violent combatants.

Amony feels that formerly abducted women should also be educated or – just like many men – allowed to join the army, so that they can earn a living and support their children.

“There is unfairness between men and women; how comes the men are being integrated into the army and educated but the women are just left to suffer?” Amony said.

Lily Grace Anena, who spent seven years with the LRA, revealed that people like her found it difficult to get husbands because many parents would not allow their sons to marry a formerly abducted girl. Retired Bishop Macleod Baker Ochola urged the government to comprehensively address the challenges of formerly abducted women.