Ochen, Eric (2011) An Exposition of Intra-bush and Post-bush Experiences of Formerly Abducted Child Mothers in Northern Uganda: Issues in Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Reintegration. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This qualitative study explores the intra-bush and post-bush experiences of formerly abducted child mothers (FACM) in Northern Uganda. Critical events in the lives of young women who were abducted as young girls to join rebel soldiers in the recent civil war are examined. These critical events include sexual violation, training and participation in battles as child soldiers, motherhood, intra-bush trauma and, escape or release. The study also explores how the young women coped with life in the post-bush society they had rejoined. I examine approaches, resources and opportunities for the rehabilitation of returning FACM, their resettlement process and reintegration. The methodology borrows from narrative analysis, phenomenology and grounded theory with the main methods being in-depth interviews with FACM and key informants as well as focus groups with community members and agency staff. Structuration theory, African feminist theories, child rights discourse and a conceptual framework focusing on rehabilitation, resettlement and reintegration are utilized as lenses through which the experiences of the young women are viewed.

Findings suggest that while the FACM demonstrated considerable agency in managing the challenges they came across both in the bush and in the post-bush periods, this agency was significantly curtailed by social structures. The young women‘s experiences, both in captivity and post-captivity were influenced by structural factors which were embedded within social systems and relationships. These factors formed the context for the lived realities of the young women which were in turn impacted by gender and culture. The FACM had to assume a multiplicity of roles and identities as girls, mothers, ‗wives‘, fighters, which interconnected with individual agency. This contributed to the strengths and resilience the young women possessed and also led to non-compliance with traditional cultural practices in some instances making reintegration more difficult.

The main contributions of the study are: in its demonstration that some African cultural traditions have points of convergence with the promotion of children rights; in increasing understanding of the role of patriarchal and matriarchal power in social life; and in the revelation of the agency of the young women and their resistance to structural violence, although this agency was not adequate for protection from abuse. The study isolates not only individual but social agency which can be utilized to support rehabilitation, resettlement and reintegration planning. It raises the significance of the quality of personal relationships in carrying out interventions for FACM, sheds lights on the issues surrounding social rejection of the young women, where this occurs, and argues for interventions that build on their strengths and considers not only post-bush but intra-bush experiences.

eochenfinalthesis.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (2MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email