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Abstract

This paper will describe the resulting long-term health needs of women war-torture survivors of the civil war years in Luwero District, Uganda. To do this sections of case studies from interviews carried out in Kikamulo Sub-County, Luwero, are utilised. The effects of gender-based violence and torture and its long term, severe and enduring impact on women’s health will be highlighted. In 1994, the Centre for Health and Human rights at Harvard University led the first international conference on health and human rights. This recognised that human rights are an essential pre-condition for physical and mental health. Women’s resulting health needs following war, including the urgent need for reproductive and gynaecological health services, are argued to be a fundamental human right which should be upheld through the legal mechanisms available. The paper suggests ways of assisting the women war survivors of Luwero and concludes that to be successful integrated health interventions for war-torture survivors need to be combined with the further collective legal, social and political empowerment of women and address the health inequalities and discriminations that exist.

Note on the Author

Helen Liebling-Kalifani, Lecturer-Practitioner in Clinical Psychology, Coventry and Warwick Universities, U.K. She helped establish the clinical psychology masters course at Makerere University Uganda, where she worked as a Senior Lecturer from 1998-1999. She was involved in an Isis-WICCE project with women war survivors in Luwero. Her PhD research followed up these recommendations. She has been awarded ESRC funding, the Phil Strong Research Prize and several research grants to continue this research and intervention work.

Angela Marshall, Senior Lecturer in the Coventry School of Law, Coventry, University. She teaches at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in gender and law, human rights and criminal justice. She is a qualified solicitor, and as taught across a range of legal disciplines. She has also taught in Kenya, East Africa. Her particular interest is in the human rights of women.

Ruth Ojiambo-Ochieng, Director of Isis-Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange, Isis-WICCE, Kampala, Uganda. This is a global action oriented women’s NGO with the aim of promoting justice and women’s human rights. Its major area of focus since 1996, is documenting women’s realities in armed conflict and peace situations from a human rights perspective.

Nassozi Margaret Kakembo, LC5 Woman Councillor, Kikamulo Sub-County, Luwero. She works with Isis-WICCE and is an active member of a local drama group that educates local communities and policy makers about women’s war experiences. She recently facilitated opening a bore well project for clean water at Kamuli High School, together with research participants.

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