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This book is a product of a research project called ‘voices of youth’ carried out - page 59 / 125





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A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa

extended families and clans living in these conditions are hardly able to muster items necessary for the cleansing rituals which would help these children to be accepted back, given both the gravity of the offences they were forced to commit, and the overwhelming number of young mothers returning from captivity.

Most formerly abducted girls hope eventually to get married, but many fail to find a husband at all, or else are obliged to marry for protection rather than out of choice. When they do marry, mistrust often creeps into their relationships. The sexual violence they have suffered affects their relationships, even though marriage is believed to offer protection for women and children. Many issues arise in marriages, including for example the consequences of spousal separation, bridewealth and dowry, the identity of children, and the accompanying clan and extended family support relations. Acholi traditional institutions in the past rarely had to deal with mass rape, mutilation and other forms of violence which have characterised the current war, and so there are few precedents offering solutions to these catastrophes. In this era of pervasive violence, Acholi leaders need to refocus their approach and afford priority to the most vulnerable segment of the population, namely young mothers. For this to happen, the elders need knowledge about the plight of girls on their return from the bush. Men are also vulnerable to abduction, but the elders need to understand that the consequences for them on their return are less severe, given the poor economic and social conditions experienced by women in the displaced camps.

1.4 Background to the research

It is in this context that the present study on violence against girls was carried out. Its aim was to raise awareness about the violence perpetrated against young mothers in this period of war. The results of the study will be used to advocate for protection measures for girl mothers, as well as the need to develop support strategies and projects for those mothers who have suffered sexual violence, taking into account the specific conditions in which they now find themselves. The book is also intended to be used as an advocacy tool to put into place measures to stop impunity and to change social attitudes.

DCI’s partner in Uganda for the ‘‘Restoring Peace Project’ is the Mother-Daughter Project, an inter-agency project coordinated by World Vision Uganda. The Mother- Daughter Project (MDP) is currently working directly with 950 young mothers in 12 IDP camps and in the 4 divisions of the municipality of Gulu, the main town of northern Uganda. The project’s goal is to ensure that the rights of young people, especially girl mothers, are respected and fulfilled through their active participation in social reconstruction, by developing and strengthening their capacity. This, it is believed, will help them create lives that they value, where they respect themselves

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