Constructing Soldiers from Boys in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

Citation:

Trenholm, Jill, Pia Olsson, Martha Blomqvist, and Beth Maina Ahlberg. 2013. “Constructing Soldiers from Boys in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.” Men and Masculinities 16 (2): 203-27. doi:10.1177/1097184X12470113.

Authors: Jill Trenholm, Pia Olsson, Martha Blomqvist, Beth Maina Ahlberg

Abstract:

This study is part of an ethnography focusing on war rape in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where child soldiers are both victims and perpetrators of violence. Twelve ex-child soldier boys, aged thirteen to eighteen years, from a reintegration facility were interviewed about their soldiering experiences and their perspectives on sexual violence. Transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis. Conceptual frameworks of militarized masculine identity and gender-based violence guided the process. Results revealed the systematic and violent construction of children into soldiers, inculcating a “militarized masculinity”; a rigid set of stereotypical hypermasculinized behaviors promoting dominance by violating, sexually and otherwise, the subordinate “other.” This was achieved through terrorizing/coercing, use of indigenous preparations, substance abuse, and forbidden reflection. This article presents a more contextualized complex view of the violent perpetrator whose behaviors are a manifestation of the modes and mechanisms in which society has constructed/reconstructed gender, ethnicity, and class, and the power dynamics therein.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Class, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Male Combatants, Ethnicity, Gender, Boys, Masculinity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Sexual Violence, Rape, Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2013

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