Restoring Hope in their Own Voices; Addressing the Intersection Between GBV and HIV&AIDS in Conflict and Post Conflict Situations in Africa

Situations of conflict perpetuate sexual and gender-based violence as women are forced and coerced into relationships and raped, which consistently abuses their dignity and exposed them to sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and AIDS. In this book, Isis-WICCE publishes a collection of post-conflict communities in Liberia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. These stories of resilience and hope show that it is possible for women living with HIV&AIDS in post-conflict communities to make a difference in their lives and their immediate communities when they are given the means for empowerment.

Restoring Hope in their Own Voices

 

Touching the Unreached; A Medical Intervention in Liberia

This report presents the process leading up to and the analysis of the major findings of the short-term medical intervention that was undertaken by Isis-WICCE in the two counties of Maryland and Grand Kru in Liberia where a total of 1158 women and men war survivors were screened and received treatment. The key health conditions that were presented during the exercise included Vesico Vaginal Fistulae, genital prolapse, enlarged and elongated breasts, urinary tract infections, hernias, hydroceles, epilepsy and mental health disorders. The medical intervention was prompted by the findings from the Isis-WICCE report, ‘A situational analysis of the women survivors of the 1989-2003 conflict in Liberia,’ where the four counties of Lofa, Bong, Maryland and Grand Kru were studied.

A Situational Analysis of Women Survivors of the 1983-2003 Conflict in Liberia

The report highlights experiences and challenges women and men encountered during the armed conflict in Liberia in the counties of Maryland, Bong, Lofa and Grand Kru. It also highlights the conduct of the warring groups during the conflict.

The 1993-2003 armed conflict in Liberia and the sexual and Gender based violence that emanated had devastating effects not only on individuals but also communities. The war destroyed social service provision and delivery, social networks and kinship systems. The report also reveals that torture and violence were not only committed by armed groups especially on women and girls but were also systematically used by police and prison officers, who were expected to be “custodians of peace.” It also presents the conduct of the warring groups as experienced by survivors; clearly detailing high levels of sexual violence.

Women’s Experiences During Armed Conflict in Southern Sudan, 1983-2005; The Case of Juba County 2008

The study documented the experiences of South Sudanese women in the two decades-long armed conflict from 1983-2005. The study covered Juba town in Central Equatorial state. The study shows the devastating impact of conflict on the political, socio-economic and cultural dynamics of South Sudanese women. They were subjected to the most humiliating, brutal and traumatizing experiences. Apart from gang rape, often in the presence of their children, and spouses, women’s vaginas were mutilated with bayonets while young girls would have their external genitalia especially the clitoris cutout. Experiences of such gruesome torture and humiliation often resulted into mental breakdown and physical health problems.

The study reveals that the prolonged civil armed conflict greatly impacted on the population with acute poverty, poor health, persistent insecurity of persons and property, displacement and congestion in the internally displaced people’s camps.

Women’s Experiences of Armed Conflict in Uganda, Gulu District. 1989-1999

The report assesses the impact of the war on women of Gulu District, Northern Uganda focusing on their war experiences, the effects of war on their health and economic status, the position of their rights, their coping mechanisms with the war and contributions to their society in distress. The study was carried out within the population originating from 13 sub counties of Gulu District but living in internally displaced people’s camps within an 18km radius of Gulu Municipality.

The key findings reveal that the population was exposed to traumatic experiences such as captivity, abductions, torture, killings, sexual abuse/violence, intimidation, walking long distances without food or water or walking barefooted in thorns and bushes and extreme humiliation to the women. The report also highlights the major health problems faced by the survivors which include reproductive health complications such as STIs including HIV&AIDS, broken and severed limbs and a host of other ailments. Psychosocial consequences were the most numerous.

Medical Intervention Study of War Affected Gulu District.

Gulu District in Northern Uganda has been at the center of the Northern Uganda armed conflict that lasted more than 18yrs and saw more than 35,000 children abducted, 2 million people displaced into IDP camps and thousands killed. In July 2001 when the war was still ongoing, Isis-WICCE working with the medical professional team in Uganda undertook a short-term medical intervention in Awer internally displaced people’s camp. The study revealed that the population had suffered significant war traumatization including psychological, physical and sexual torture.

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