For years the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) captured thousands of young girls in northern Uganda, forcing them to be not only soldiers, but wives and mothers too. When these women finally escaped their captors, children in tow, they hoped to be welcomed back into their communities. Instead, they and their children were met with rejection because of their time “in the bush” with the LRA. This stigma continues to have severe social and economic consequences for mother and child: they are socially marginalized and can scarcely meet basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. The children often cannot afford school, and face scorn when they are able to attend.
Since 2015 ICTJ has allied with two local organizations to understand the impact of the lack of accountability for sexual violence committed during the conflict and advocate for redress. Founded by mothers who gave birth in LRA captivity, Watye Ki Gen and the Women’s Advocacy Network (WAN) work at a grassroots level to confront the pervasive stigma in their communities. They empower children born of wartime rape, and their mothers, both socially and economically.
Watye Ki Gen has taken the lead in identifying and documenting children born in captivity and bringing them together in support groups. It provides counseling and support to the children, helping them address the stigma they face both at home and within their communities.
WAN advocates for economic independence for formerly abducted women while also providing them with the tools needed to advocate for their rights. It offers literacy classes and other training, and its members petition the government to fulfill its obligations to them and their children.
Go inside the work of both Watye Ki Gen and WAN, and meet the inspiring women behind their missions.