The sample for the study consisted of 10 participants from the Gulu District in

The sample for the study consisted of 10 participants

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The sample for the study consisted of 10 participants from the Gulu District in northern Uganda who were over 21 years of age and who had undergone reintegration. Data for the study were collected as follows: A review of the literature explored the role of child soldiers in African conflicts, the trauma and abuse they suffer, and their rehabilitation. In-depth, face-to-face interviews with 10 participants were conducted, recorded and transcribed. The interviews conducted with an interpreter were directed by key questions. The data collected from the transcribed interviews, observational notes and documents were triangulated, and then the information was coded into themes, sub-themes and categories. These categories and codes systematically formed the basis for the emerging story. A selection of the findings is presented below with verbatim quotes from the participants. Findings and Discussion Stigmatization, Stereotyping and Prejudice Returnees experienced mixed feelings when returning back to their communities. Some experienced welcoming attitudes from family and community members whilst others were rejected and subject to ostracism. A statement from one of the interviewees illustrates this: Some people welcomed me and were very happy to see me because it was by God’s Grace that I managed to escape. But, others were not because their children did not come back. (Interviewee, 1) Stigmatization, stereotyping and prejudice constitutes a challenge to reintegration that all of the participants experienced. One of the participants explains that community members fear to socialize with her: Most people think ... I can harm them because they say that I have spirits of those I killed. ... I can beat and kill them so they avoid being close to me. (Interviewee, 2) Another young woman reports a similar experience: Elders pointed fingers at me, accusing me of having evil spirits in me and they would not allow me socialize with other people and children saying that the spirits I had could enter their children...Umm, they call us luneco! (killers). If you socialize with them, they can easily kill you! (Interviewee, 3) Traditional beliefs and superstition is an inherent part of the Ugandan society. The belief that evil spirits have entered these women leads community members to develop negative and 3
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hostile attitudes towards these women. One of the interviewees even got blamed for the death of her husband when he passed away due to a medical condition. People point fingers at me saying she stayed in the bush, she is unfortunate, and has bad spirits in her that is why her husband died. (Interviewee, 2) Women who return with children they have born in captivity report incidences of particular hardship which are experienced by both them and their children. Some ... call me; cen…,(evil spirits) and they would not want my children to play with theirs.. (Interviewee, 8) It is very challenging especially when one comes back with children. Like in my case, I came back with two. It is very hard for people to accept them even for my family members... my close relatives even throw insults at the children saying
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  • Summer '16
  • Ramon Wawire
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