Forced Marriage as a Political Project: Sexual Rules and Relations in the Lord’s Resistance Army


Baines, Erin. 2014. “Forced Marriage as a Political Project: Sexual Rules and Relations in the Lord’s Resistance Army.” Journal of Peace Research 51 (3): 405–17.

Author: Erin Baines


One of the most vexing contradictions about the Uganda originated rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), is the fact that it institutionalized forced marriage on the one hand, while actively discouraging sexually immoral behavior on the other: rape, sexual violence, and promiscuity both within the group and outside it were punishable by severe beating or death. What explains this contradiction? The article suggests that in addition to maintaining discipline and control over a diverse and reluctant group, forced marriage and the regulation of sexual relations reproduced a political project of imagining a ‘new Acholi’ nation. The article draws on original data collected in focus group discussions with former commanders and wives to commanders to discuss the historical evolution of this vision, how the LRA enforced rules regarding sexual behavior, and finally, the way forced marriage implicated women and girls in the organization of power and domination in the group until it was forced from permanent bases in Sudan in 2002.

Keywords: armed groups, forced marriage, Lord's resistance army, rape, sexual violence

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Sexual Violence, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2014

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