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This book is a product of a research project called ‘voices of youth’ carried out - page 63 / 125





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A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa

‘Today when they insist on knowing where their father is I burst into tears, because I have no-one to give them as a father’.

Many child mothers still need to go to school or acquire some skills and training that would enable them to generate some income for themselves and their children. Yet this is like a dream for them. Only a few lucky ones who return through some rehabilitation centres have managed this.

A number of the young mothers also said that they would consider marrying when their children are able to go to school. Yet a large proportion of them lack the means to send their children to school.

2.2 Stigma and discrimination

Stigma and discrimination are widely experienced by all three categories of child mothers interviewed in this research. Although it falls short of physical violence, it has serious psychological – and indeed material – effects. All manner of degrading names and stereotypes are used to describe these girls and their children. The fact that girls who were victims of violence are now facing extreme difficulties is mainly a result of the culture and attitudes shown towards them by the communities in which they live. These attitudes have appeared in Acholi society relatively recently, since before the war it was rare to encounter rape victims because of enforcement of law and order and strict traditional codes. However, before the war too, girls who gave birth out of wedlock or who had been divorced were subjected to various forms of prejudice, and considered to be bringers of bad luck and shame to the family, girls who lacked the moral teaching that their mothers were expected to


Girls returning home from captivity are often marginalised and isolated from their communities because they are believed to be dangerous, aggressive, killers, chicken thieves, unruly, dirty and still capable of killing. It is rare for formerly abducted girls to find a marriage partner, owing to the influence of the community on their potential suitors. Girls who have suffered violence in war, especially those who were formerly abducted, are not considered to have a legitimate place amongst their peers, with their families, in their communities, and in the eyes of the administration. To make matters worse, those returning pregnant or with babies face the additional pressure of protecting and providing for their babies, with little or no support from a community that resents their presence.

Discrimination within the child mothers’ families When the formerly abducted child mothers are reunited with their families, relationships are usually good at first, especially if the girls have been through the


  • nterview with Mego Ato, Bungatira camp, Gulu District 23rd July 200

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