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Survivors of Sexual Violence in Lira District, Uganda An Ethnographic Study.

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Presentation on theme: "Survivors of Sexual Violence in Lira District, Uganda An Ethnographic Study."— Presentation transcript:

1 Survivors of Sexual Violence in Lira District, Uganda An Ethnographic Study

2 Sexual Violence - Globally Sexual violence is recognized as one of the foremost challenges facing women and girls around the world. In one study, lifetime experiences of sexual violence were seen to range between 6% (a city in Japan) to 59% (an Ethiopian province). 1

3 Sexual Violence - Uganda In a recent study, – 51.7% of respondents experienced intimate partner violence in the previous year – 41% had been forced by their husbands to have sex in the same period – 5% of respondents reported an incident of rape by a non-domestic partner in the previous year. 2

4 Children & Youth In an 8 country study, one- to two- thirds of reported sexual assault victims were 15 years or younger. Peers and intimate partners have been found to be the most common sources of sexual violence for adolescents. 3 4

5 Consequences of Sexual Violence Higher risks of poor mental and physical health including: – Post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts and attempts, sexually transmitted diseases, and chemical dependency. – Negative reactions from families and communities and extreme social isolation. 5 6

6 Lira District Ethnographic Study To explore the experiences and understandings of girls affected by sexual violence in Lira, Northern Uganda. CPC Learning Network and ChildFund International June 2007 to August semi-structured, open-ended interviews

7 Study Participants 30 participants Aged 13 – 17 Resident in one of four Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) camps (Agweng, Ayami, Barr and Ogur) in Lira District 15 survivors of sexual violence Rape experience was not probed

8 Results: Violence within the Home Pervasiveness of violence both within homes and communities Almost all the respondents spoke of violence within their communities and homes

9 Violence within the Home “One day my mother started to quarrel and later it reached up to the level of fighting and [my father] fought my mother seriously to the extent of vomiting blood.” “There was no language I could listen to and there was really rampant quarrelling and sometimes there was also fighting.”

10 Barriers to Education Survivors of sexual violence face increased barriers when accessing the education system Bullying from peers Lack of financial support Low self-esteem and self-efficacy Early Marriage and/or pregnancy

11 Barriers to Education “Sometimes I think that people have refused to pay my school fees and yet if the incident had not happened they were going to pay my school fees. My friends are going to school and I’m just seated at home, I’m useless.”

12 Stigma Most survivors of sexual violence spoke of experiencing stigma, rejection and bullying – Parents, community and peers The willingness of the community at large to accept the victim as a fully functioning member of the community is essential in the rehabilitation process 7

13 Stigma Community members were seen to encourage their daughters to avoid associating with survivors in order to protect the reputation of their daughters or out of fear that bad behavior may spread.

14 Stigma “They say this girl is a prostitute, useless if they were my parent they would chase me away from home, and not send me to school.” “For me I just decided to start absenting myself because the moment I could go to school pupils could abuse me and say you see that girl who was raped and I feel ashamed so the best I could do was to stop going to school.”

15 Early Marriage Survivors seen as “spoilt” Marriage to perpetrators of violence Families often decided to remove their daughters from school or encouraged early marriage as a way to protect the girls’ future prospects in light of potential sexual violence.

16 Early Marriage “ Like recently at the end of the school term, there is a man who came to marry a school girl and the father also accepted …. after all girls have no future in education because you might get spoilt for nothing.”

17 Self Esteem Frequent descriptions of the girls as ‘useless’, ‘worthless’, etc Girls are not as smart as, or do not have as much potential as boys These feelings of low self-efficacy and self-worth are only exacerbated by experiences of sexual violence

18 Self Esteem “The incident that happened has changed my life in the sense that for me I used to worry and think of anything but now that it has happened to me, whenever I am alone I begin to think about it and I cry then I think that I may not go back to school.”

19 Conclusions Sexual violence has consequences for both survivors as well as girls in the community in general. Access to education is of particular concern for adolescent girls but barriers exist on a multitude of levels.

20 Citations 1.WHO. (2005). WHO Multi Country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence Against Women. Geneva: World Health Organization. 2.Stark, L., Roberts, L., Wheaton, W., Acham, A., Boothby, N., & Ager, A. (2009). Measuring Violence against Women amidst War and Displacement in Northern Uganda Using the ‘Neighborhood Method’. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 3.Heise, L., Pitanguy, J., & Germain, A. (1994). Violence against women: the hidden health burden. Washington DC: World Bank: Discussion Paper. 4.Erulkar, A. S. (2004). The Experience of Sexual Coercion Among Young People in Kenya. International Family Planning Perspectives, 30, ; Jewkes, R. (2005). Non-consensual sex among South African youth: prevalence of coerced sex and discourses of control and desire. In S. J. Jejeebhoy, I. H. Shah, & S. Thapa, Sex without consent: young people in developing countries (pp ). London: Zed Books.

21 5. Thompson, M., Kaslow, N., Kingree, J., Puett, R., Thompson, N., & Meadows, L. (1999). Partner abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder as risk factors for suicide attempts in a sample of low-income, inner-city women. J Trauma Stress, 12 (1), ; Johnson, K., Asher, J., Rosborough, S., Raja, A., Panjabi, R., Beadling, C. & Lawry, L. (2008). Association of Combatant Status and Sexual Violence With Health and Mental Health Outcomes in Postconflict Liberia. JAMA, 300 (6), ; Ellsberg, M., Jansen, H. A., Heise, L., Watts, C. H., & Garcia-Moreno, C. (2008). Intimate partner violence and women’s physical and mental. The Lancet, 371 (9619), ; Koss, M. P., & Heslet, L. (1992). Somatic Consequences of Violence Against Women. Archives of Family Medicine, 1 (1), Sideris, T. (2003). War, gender and culture: Mozambican women refugees. Social Science & Medicine, 56 (4), 713– Betancourt, T. S., Agnew-Blaisb, J., Gilman, S. E., Williams, D. R., & Ellise, B. H. (2010). Past horrors, present struggles: The role of stigma in the association between war experiences and psychosocial adjustment among former child soldiers in Sierra Leone. Social Science & Medicine, 70 (1),


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