Home Institution

George Washington University

Publication Date

Fall 2009

Program Name

Uganda: Development Studies


With the end of the twenty-year war in Northern Uganda, the area has begun the long process of rehabilitating, rebuilding, and reintegrating. For women who have now returned from abduction and forced marriage, reintegration has proven difficult, specifically in regards to these women’s desires to marry upon return. The experiences of these formerly abducted women in the bush as well as the conflict-induced changes to traditional marriage often limits their ability to remarry and thus prevents them from fully regaining their place in Acholi society. Ultimately, this study sought to examine these difficulties by looking at the societal norms for marriage, how these may have changed in the midst of the conflict, and how these changes, as well as these women’s histories in captivity, have now affected their marriage options. Research was conducted in Gulu for 5 weeks in order to study this aspect of post-conflict reintegration. Gulu town was chosen as the researcher’s focus because hundreds of women have returned here from the bush during the past 3 years. Also, the many Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other organizations in the area provided the researcher with background information about this issue in addition to formerly abducted women’s testimonies. In order to gather the necessary information, the researcher relied on semi-structured, one-on-one interviews with the affected women as well as a focus group of the counselors who work with this wounded portion of the population. This study concludes that unmarried women who had been abducted receive diminished respect and are kept on the outskirts of Acholi society. Their horrific experiences and forced marriage combined with the post-conflict changes to the institution of marriage now make it significantly more difficult for this group of vulnerable people to join in marriage and form traditional families. As a result, they often cannot fully reintegrate back into society, and are thus limited in their options for development.


Family, Life Course, and Society | Peace and Conflict Studies | Women's Studies

Article Location