Catherine’s Secret

Catherine’s Secret

During the civil war in Uganda, Catherine Ojok spent several years as a sex slave of a senior rebel commander.

Catherine Ojok runs a small café in Uganda. She keeps herself busy chopping vegetables and tending to her customers but she rarely smiles and few know the details of her past. When she was 12, Catherine and her sister were abducted by Ugandan rebels while on their way to school. For more than 10 years she was held captive and for five of those years she was one of 21 “wives” or sex slaves of a senior rebel commander who fathered her daughter, Harriet. After being captured and then freed by the Uganda military in 2006, she and her daughter returned home. With help from World Vision, a Christian relief organization that provides counseling and vocational training for former captives, Catherine was able to open a small café and is doing all she can to ensure Harriet, 6, will have a normal life. She keeps the identity of Harriet’s father a secret and does not talk about what happened to her for fear of being judged or ostracized by others in the community. Catherine’s story is told through the voice of a translator and includes subtitles due to the translator’s accent.

Produced by the Washington Post, this video is part of the “Seeds of Peace” series which examines the devastating impact of 20 years of civil war in Uganda on its people. Nearly two million were displaced, and at least 66,000 between the ages of 14 and 30 were abducted by the rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Length: 5:50

Other videos in the series:

A Life or Death Choice:
Stay in the camps or go home? For displaced Ugandans, the wrong choice could mean the difference between life and death. (8:04)

The Civil War (Q&A):
Former peace mediator Betty Bigombe answers questions about the civil war in Uganda. (24:42)

The Ordinary Life of a Former Rebel:
Patrick Odong was forced to kill as a rebel in the LRA. Music helped him find peace when he returned home. (6:06)

Producer/ Reporter: Ben de la Cruz
Executive Producers: Liz Spayd & Tom Kennedy
Section Editors: Liz Heron & Tiffany Harness
Translators: Sarah Adongo & Monica Akello
Music: James O’Brien