Subject: [fem-women2000 702] Fw: Women and War
From: lalamaziwa <>
Date: Thu, 06 Sep 2001 15:53:37 +0900
Seq: 702

---------------- Original message follows ----------------
 From: ISIS-WICCE <>
 Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001 10:11:14 +0300
 Subject: [WA-News] Women and War

Dear Collegues,

We are glad to inform you that Isis-WICCE launched two research reports on 
23rd August 2001. Below is an abstracts about the reports.

"Women's Experiences of Armed Conflict Situations in Uganda: The case of 
Gulu District 1986-1999 "and "Medical Interventional Study of War Affected 
Gulu District, Uganda" are essentially two parts of the same report.

Part one recounts one of the longest civil conflicts in the history of 
Uganda and examines its effects on individuals especially women and girls, 
families and communities. The report notes that the economy of the region 
has collapsed while marriage and family formation patterns have been 
irreversibly altered.  Rebels did not only destroyed infrastructure but 
also tortured and abused members of the community. The government soldiers 
were not clean either. They systematically looted personal property and 
livestock. The report gives disconcerting detail, mostly reported verbatim 
by women of their abduction and rape, forced marriages and mutilation as 
well as transformation into an effective murder machinery by the Kony rebel 
commanders. The women who survived abduction by rebels reveal the cruelty 
of government soldiers in livid tales of individual and gang rapes, forced 
prostitution, unwanted pregnancies, harsh punishments and the life of 
extreme deprivation in internally displaced people's camps or so called 
"protected villages". The women and men's tales of homosexual rapes (Tek 
Gungu) by government troops are as disconcerting as their stories of 
genital mutilation by Kony rebel child soldiers.

It is noteworthy that while the majority of men have failed to cope with 
the war trauma and many taken to heavy drinking out of frustration, women 
with the burden of trauma and fending for families have either individually 
or in groups organised self-help activities to support their families 

The major health problems faced by the survivors include; untreated fevers, 
reproductive health complications, STIs including HIV/AIDS, broken and 
severed limbs and a host of other ailments. Psychosocial problems were the 
most numerous.

Part Two: The outcome of the findings of the earlier documentation 
necessitated an intervention as a way of scientifically analysing the 
consequences of war especially to women and girls. A team of specialists 
>from African Psycare Research Organisation (APRO), Association of 
Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Uganda (AOGU) and Department of 
Orthopaedics - Makerere University teamed-up in May 2001 with the district 
based counterparts in Gulu to undertake a one month data collection, which 
led to the medical intervention of emergency cases in the area of 
psychological, gynaecological and surgical.

This part of the report details a plethora of war related physical, mental 
and psychological malformations in just one of the over 30 Internally 
Displaced Peoples' Camps of Gulu (Awer camp), that were serious to warrant 
specialised attention. The intervention was aimed at providing lessons to 
enable medical rehabilitation of particularly women, girls and coping with 
the physiological and psychiatric conditions imposed by war.

Nearly everybody interviewed has experienced at least one torture event. 
The commonly reported physical torture experiences included; beating and 
kicking, forced hard labour deprivation of food, water and medicine and 
tying Kandoya.

The government army (NRA/UPDF) accounted for a quarter of all torture 
cases, and the rebel army LRA (Kony) for 70%. Torture usually took place at 
home affecting significantly more females than males. Psychiatric disorders 
diagnosed included post-traumatic stress, depression, alcohol abuse, 
generalised anxiety, panic anxiety, Agoraphobia, social phobia, somatoform, 
and suicidal thoughts.  In addition impaired function was reported in work, 
family relationships and sexual function. 6% percent of the respondents had 
homicidal thoughts while 23% of the respondents had suicidal thoughts.

The gynaecological effects related to war ranged from vesico vaginal 
fistulae (VVF), infertility, chronic pelvic pain, sexually transmitted 
infections, vaginal tears and laxity. The study revealed that only a 
quarter of the women had accessed a qualified health worker for their 
problems. Sexual function was adversely affected, 22% had unstable or 
broken marriages and 32% were not able to work.

70.4% of the camp residents were found suffering from orthopaedic/surgical 
complaints especially recurrent and mechanical low back pain, septic 
arthritis, congenitally deformed limbs especially in the region of knee 
joint, soft tissue injuries such as cut wounds, bruises, skin lacerations 
at various sites on the body especially the limbs, face and trunk. Many of 
these injuries were a result of gunshots, beatings and cuts by sharp 
objects such as knives and machetes. Other surgery complaints included 
hernia, burn contractures, neglected or poorly treated fractures, TB of the 
spine and chronic pus-discharging sinuses from swollen limbs especially 
among children, were identified as cases that needed immediate assistance.

The authors came to the conclusion that the war has practically debilitated 
the whole population. People live in "protected" Internally Displaced 
Peoples' camps where life is very difficult, health is poor and diseases 
are rampant. Men folk are few and decreasing in numbers. Women and children 
are overburdened with daily struggle to survive. This has caused numerous 
physical, psychological and social problems. The extreme conditions 
resulting from this war are compounded by severe gynaecological and 
orthopaedic complications. 88% had psychosocial problems.

The authors call on civil society in Uganda and the international community 
to bring pressure on the warring factions to ensure the war ends and hence 
pave the way for social, economic and medical rehabilitation of the 
tortured survivors. Ugandans have no other alternative but to forge for 
conflict resolution, peace building and co-existence since, there is no 
winner in any form of conflict.

  This report is a must read for NGOs, government planers, policy and 
decision-makers, the UN, humanitarian organizations, women and men, and all 
development workers as well as students undertaking peace studies. It 
provides an insight into the nearly forgotten war in the inter-lacustrine 
region of Africa where the population and particularly women have become 
pawns in a sinister civil/international war game whose motive defies common 

Copies are available in the Isis-WICCE resource centre at US$5 each and 
will online by end of September.

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