A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa
Some illustrations from the testimonies
‘The person from the Amnesty Commission Office said that we are stupid and mad, what brought you here? He abused our mothers and threatened to beat us up…he further called the police and army to arrest us and take us to the barracks.’
‘We even tried to get money to fund the projects we had designed from NUSAF (the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund) but our project was not approved - only the rich got it.’
‘The Amnesty Officer told me: “You are mad with the blood of people you killed”’
‘Culture has a hand. This is because they expect women to be tolerant and they expect women to accept any situation that comes their way. They feel going to the local council or to the police is something for men to do.’
‘The voices of women are not heard and they are never taken seriously.’
Although the rights of child mothers may be enshrined in law in specific or general ways, there is no specific Ugandan law which explicitly protects their rights. Therefore knowing the intricacies of the law is essential for someone seeking to navigate their way round the many relevant provisions. Most child mothers are not aware of what their rights are and they do not have sufficient legal knowledge or support to claim them.
For all these reasons, child mothers are often denied basic rights to food, to education, to property, and to a family life. However, what is most galling to many of them is the absence of justice, they suffer exclusion and deprivation for a crime that was committed not by themselves but by those who abused them in the first
Moreover, senior commanders who abducted, raped and tortured young
girls are now free to move around in town and in the camps. This is viewed as a grave injustice by some young women who have returned. Respondents told us in their interviews that some senior commanders still have underage ‘wives’ in Gulu town, constituting the legal offence of defilement or statutory rape. It is true that the amnesty applies to and forgives all of those who returned, however, this behaviour after they have returned is not covered under the amnesty and is in fact a violation of the law.
2.3 Consequences for the children of child mothers
The children of child mothers are not recognised, simply because the community believes that they have no tribe or clan, and therefore no origin and no identity.