Female abductees were forced not only to fight but also cook, carry supplies, and act as servants to commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Many young women were also forced to serve as “wives” to male soldiers, and were routinely subjected to rape, sexual slavery, unwanted pregnancy, indentured servitude, and/or torture under the guise of “marriage.” Top commanders of the LRA, such as rebel leader Joseph Kony, was purported to have “wed” anywhere from 40 to 80 “wives.” More than half of these “wives” bore children while in captivity. As one survivor describes, unmarried girls were treated like a “public socket” for anyone to use.
Those who returned home were often ostracized by their families and communities for participating in the armed conflict and killing kin. Female members of the LRA were further stigmatized for having children out of traditional wedlock; consequently they often encountered additional difficulty accessing arable land and securing a livelihood. Some women attempted to cope with their financial hardship by entering into economic arrangements with their former abusers or abandoning their children.