Research publication

After Rape: Violence, Justice and Social Harmony in Uganda

Newly released in paperback from CPAID researcher Holly Porter

After Rape book cover_

Following the ICC intervention in 2005, northern Uganda has been at the heart of international justice debates. The emergent controversy, however, missed crucial aspects of Acholi realities: that the primary moral imperative in the wake of wrongdoing was not punishment but, instead, the restoration of social harmony.

Drawing upon abundant fieldwork and in-depth interviews with almost 200 women, Holly Porter examines issues surrounding wrongdoing and justice, and sexual violence and rape, among the Acholi people in northern Uganda. This intricate exploration offers evidence of a more complicated and nuanced explanation of rape and its aftermath, suggesting a re-imagining of the meanings of post-atrocity justice, whilst acknowledging the role of sex, power and politics in all sexual experiences between coercion and consent. With its wide investigation of social life in northern Uganda, this provocative study offers vital analysis for those interested in sexual and gender violence, post-conflict reconstruction and human rights.


'This is a remarkable book on rape and justice in northern Uganda, based on the kind of fieldwork that is only possible when the researcher lives for a decade in the same communities she researches, speaks the local language and builds deep trust with her respondents. Porter combines this incredible empirical depth with provocative insights on sex, violence, and justice that extend far beyond the Ugandan case to inform some of today's most pressing debates in politics, law, gender studies, and anthropology. The book also inspires new thinking on the most appropriate methodologies for grasping complex inter-personal dynamics in conflict-affected communities.'
– Phil Clark, University of London

'After Rape not only provides a moving account of sexual violence in civil war, but rests on deep insights into concepts of justice and reconciliation in African societies that makes it essential reading for all those concerned with healing the aftermath of conflict in Africa.'
– Christopher Clapham, University of Cambridge

'One of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking books on conflict and rape ever written. Porter’s theory of social harmony goes to the heart of understanding how rape survivors are treated in their communities. A must read for anyone seeking to understand and address rape and the acceptance of rape survivors in conflict-affected societies.'
– Dyan Mazurana, Tufts University, Massachusetts

‘After Rape is a fascinating and moving book on a deeply difficult subject. Porter’s insights into fraught questions of violence, consent, and gender draw on her long-term engagement in northern Uganda and open new vistas onto what justice might mean after - and beyond - the civil war.'
– Adam Branch, University of Cambridge

‘Based on extensive and sensitive fieldwork, After Rape illuminates Acholi ideas of justice and appropriate sex. A master of contextualization, Holly Porter deftly examines rape in relation to gender relations, the legacy of war and the ideals of social harmony in contemporary northern Uganda. With its reflections on methodology, careful analysis, and sympathetic portrayals of distressing situations, this is a truly thought-provoking book.'
– Susan Reynolds Whyte, University of Copenhagen

Dr Holly Porter is Assistant Professorial Fellow in the Department of International Development at the London School of Economics. Holly's research focuses on gender, sexualities, violence and local notions of healing and justice in northern Uganda, where she has lived for more than ten years.

Read reviews here:
Journal of Modern African Studies
African Studies Review
African Studies Quarterly
Conflict and Society

Available now: £29.99 £23.99 / $32.99 $26.39
Discount: 20% off with code PORTER19 at the checkout.

Available now: £24.99 19.99 / $32.99 26.39

Discount: 20% off with code PORTER19 at the checkout.