Beyond Cimo Tok. The post-conflict stigmatization of children born of war in Gulu district, Northern Uganda.
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In conflicts all around the world, sexual and gender based violence are central to tactics of abuse and humiliation. The prevalence of sexual violence has been increasingly recognized and addressed in policy-making and academia. Yet, while they are a particularly vulnerable category of war-affected people, attention to children that were born from sexual violence is largely lacking. In the over two-decade long war in Northern Uganda, many children were born as a result of sexual and gender based violence committed by the Lord Resistance Army, government forces, and in overcrowded internally displaced person camps. In this thesis, I analyze how stigmatization continues to challenge the life opportunities of children born of war in Gulu district, Northern Uganda. While some scholars on stigma have argued that the defining feature of the process of stigmatization is negative evaluation, I argue that stigma goes beyond negative evaluation and translates into discrimination and exclusion. The stigmatization of children born of war is interlinked with the patrilineal identity structure of Acholi society, affecting not only social acceptance but also economic security and community participation. Furthermore, stigmatization is rooted in cultural and social norms on sex and marriage, is influenced by spiritual beliefs, and is partly shaped by economic considerations. This research constructs a better understanding of the stigmatization of children born of war in Northern Uganda, hereby adding to the academic debate on stigmatization, contributing to existing knowledge on children born of war, and forming a basis to develop targeted policies that can address their challenges and allow them to have a better future.