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Young Female Fighters in African Wars


Coulter, Chris, Mariam Persson, and Mats Utas. 2008. Young Female Fighters in African Wars. Uppsala, Sweden: Nordic Africa Institute.

Authors: Chris Coulter, Mariam Persson, Mats Utas


In the numerous armed conflicts that are tearing the African continent apart, young women are participants and carry guns alongside their male comrades-in-arms. Challenging the stereotype of women in African wars as victims only, this book shows how in modern African wars women have often been as active as men. Female fighters are victimized, yet they are not mere victims. Girls and young women who volunteer to fight often possess quite considerable strength and independence. Programs for disarming, demobilizing, and reintegrating former fighters must be based on better understanding of the range of women’s roles and experiences in war and post-war settings in order to act in a gender-sensitive way and to empower this group of women in the aftermath of war. (Amazon)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, DDR, Gender, Girls, Boys, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa

Year: 2008

Child Soldiers: The Experience of the Mozambican Association for Public Health (AMOSAPU)


Castelo-Branco, Viriato. 1997. “Child Soldiers: The Experience of the Mozambican Association for Public Health (AMOSAPU).” Development in Practice 7 (4): 494–96.

Author: Viriato Castelo-Branco


This symposium, co-hosted by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) and the South Africa Office of Oxfam, drew together individuals and organisations working in the areas of violence, conflict and peace-building. Castelo-Branco reports briefly on the use of child soldiers in the conflict in Mozambique, making them both the victims and perpetrators of violence. The trauma of such brutalisation is discussed, as well as children's coping strategies and the community-oriented psychological and economic assistance offered by AMOSAPU. (Oxfam)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, Violence Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Mozambique

Year: 1997

Amazons Appear


Brett, Rachel. 2003. “Amazons Appear.” The World Today 59 (11): 14–15.

Author: Rachel Brett

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys

Year: 2003

Lost Are Found: Child Soldiers Can Reenter, Thrive in Former Community


Bower, Bruce. 2008. “Lost Are Found: Child Soldiers Can Reenter, Thrive in Former Community.” Science News 173 (18): 5–6.

Author: Bruce Bower

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys, Post-Conflict

Year: 2008

Sierra Leone’s Former Child Soldiers: A Follow-Up Study of Psychosocial Adjustment and Community Reintegration


Betancourt, Theresa Stichick, Ivelina Ivanova Borisova, Timothy Philip Williams, Theodore H. Whitfield, John Williamson, Robert T. Brennan, Marie de la Soudiere, and Stephen E. Gilman. 2010. “Sierra Leone’s Former Child Soldiers: A Follow-Up Study of Psychosocial Adjustment and Community Reintegration.” Child Development 81 (4): 1077–95.

Authors: Theresa Stichick Betancourt, Ivelina Ivanova Borisova, Timothy Philip Williams, Theodore H. Whitfield, John Williamson, Robert T. Brennan, Marie de la Soudiere, Stephen E. Gilman


This is the first prospective study to investigate psychosocial adjustment in male and female former child soldiers (ages 10-18; n = 156,12% female). The study began in Sierra Leone in 2002 and was designed to examine both risk and protective factors in psychosocial adjustment. Over the 2-year period of follow-up, youth who had wounded or killed others during the war demonstrated increases in hostility. Youth who survived rape not only had higher levels of anxiety and hostility but also demonstrated greater confidence and prosocial attitudes at follow-up. Of the potential protective resources examined, improved community acceptance was associated with reduced depression at follow-up and improved confidence and prosocial attitudes regardless of levels of violence exposure. Retention in school was also associated with greater prosocial attitudes.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys, Health, Mental Health, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2010

Sierra Leone's Child Soldiers: War Exposures and Mental Health Problems by Gender


Betancourt, Theresa S., Ivelina I. Borisova, Marie de la Soudière, and John Williamson. 2011. “Sierra Leone’s Child Soldiers: War Exposures and Mental Health Problems by Gender.” Journal of Adolescent Health 49 (1): 21–28. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2010.09.021.

Authors: Theresa S. Betancourt, Ivelina I. Borisova, Marie de la Soudière, John Williamson


To examine associations between war experiences, mental health, and gender in a sample of male and female Sierra Leonean former child soldiers. Methods: A total of 273 former child soldiers (29% females) were assessed for depression and anxiety by using the Hopkins Symptoms Checklist, and for hostility, confidence, and prosocial attitudes by using an instrument developed for use with Sierra Leonean child soldiers. Results: The former child soldiers had witnessed and perpetrated violence at largely comparable rates, although females experienced higher rates of rape (p < .0001). More females scored within clinical ranges for depression (p = .008) and anxiety (p < .0001). In multiple regression analyses, female gender was a significant predictor of lower levels of confidence but not of mental health problems. Children who perpetrated injury or killing reported greater levels of depression (p < .0001), anxiety (p < .0001), and hostility (p < .0001). Surviving rape was associated with increased anxiety (p < .05) and hostility (p < .05), in males. Surviving rape was also related to higher confidence levels (p < .05) and prosocial attitudes (p < .05). Male former child soldiers who lost caregivers were also more vulnerable to depression (p < .05) and anxiety (p < .05), strong and significant effects noted among male child soldiers.

In our sample, female and male child soldiers experienced comparable levels of most war exposures. Female soldiers reported higher rates of rape and lower levels of adaptive outcomes. Toxic forms of violence (killing or injuring; rape) were associated with particularly poor outcomes. Although all boys and girls who experience rape and loss of caregivers are generally at risk for mental health problems, boys in our sample demonstrated increased vulnerability; these findings indicate a need for more inclusive mental health services.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys, Gender Analysis, Health, Mental Health, Violence Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2011

No Place to Hide: Refugees, Displaced Persons, and the Recruitment of Child Soldiers


Achvarina, Vera, and Simon F. Reich. 2006. “No Place to Hide: Refugees, Displaced Persons, and the Recruitment of Child Soldiers.” International Security 31 (1): 127–64.

Authors: Vera Achvarina, Simon F. Reich


The global number of child soldiers has grown significantly in the last two decades despite a series of protocols designed to curb this trend. They are generally employed in wars where belligerents spend more time attacking civilian populations than fighting professional armies. Used by both governments and rebel groups, child soldiers epitomize many of the problems associated with states at risk: intergenerational violence, poverty, and the failure of efforts to instill the rule of war. Both scholars in security studies and policymakers have largely regarded child soldier recruitment as a humanitarian issue. But recent events have linked child soldiering to insurgency and terrorism, suggesting that this issue is also developing a security dimension. This article examines contrasting arguments about the causes of child soldiering. Using data drawn from nineteen African conflicts, the authors argue that the major explanation for the significant variation in the percentage of child soldiers recruited is the degree of protection against abduction provided by governments and external actors to camps housing internally displaced persons and refugees.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Refugees, Refugee/IDP Camps, Economies, Poverty, Gender, Girls, Boys, Security, Terrorism, Violence Regions: Africa

Year: 2006

The Forgotten Casualties: Women, Children, and Environmental Change


Cutter, Susan L. 1995. “The Forgotten Casualties: Women, Children, and Environmental Change.” Global Environmental Change 5 (3): 181–94.

Author: Susan L. Cutter


The concept of equity is used to highlight the impacts of environmental change on women and children. Three types of equity are defined (social, generational, and procedural) and both process and outcome (distributions) dimensions are described.  The application of the equity concept to the understanding of the socio-spatial impacts on women and children is illustrated using three themes.  The effect of environmental contamination on women and children provides an example of generational inequity.  Evidence of social inequity is seen in the poverty, population, environmental degradation spiral especially as it compromises the wellbeing of women and children and their ability to mitigate the consequence of environmental disturbances.  Finally, procedural inequities are described in the context of equal rights for women, including their rights to resources.  Women and children bear and will continue to bear a disproportionate burden of global environmental changes.  They also have unequal capabilities and opportunities for adjustments, rendering them more vulnerable to the regional and global environmental transformations currently underway.

Topics: Age, Environment, Climate Change, Gender, Women, Girls, Boys, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity

Year: 1995

Straight as a Rule: Heteronormativity, Gendercide, and the Noncombatant Male


Jones, Adam. 2006. “Straight as a Rule: Heteronormativity, Gendercide, and the Noncombatant Male.” Men and Masculinities 8 (4): 451–69. doi:10.1177/1097184X04268797.

Author: Adam Jones


This article is an extension of the author's research into the vulnerability of noncombatant "battle-age" males in situations of war and genocide. It explores the role of heteronormativity–defined as culturally hegemonic heterosexuality–in shaping the victimization experiences of male noncombatants. An introductory section addresses definitional issues and frames the discussion in terms of the study of gendercide, or gender-selective mass killing. The link among noncombatant status, imputed violations of heteronormativity, and gendercide is then explored. A separate section considers the phenomenon of sexual violence against males in wartime and asks whether feminist theories of "genocidal rape" can usefully be deployed to assist understanding of this little studied phenomenon. The conclusion cites some remaining conceptual and conventional obstacles to research on male noncombatants, and suggests avenues for further investigation. (Sage Journals)



"One of the most intriguing elements of male-on-male rape and sexual violence is the gendered positioning of rapist and victim: the way in which victims are feminized while rapists are confirmed in their heterosexual, hegemonic masculinity." (459)

"The question is, Can sexual violence against noncombatant men also serve a genocidal purpose? I think it can. First, it must be noted that the rape of males in the context of war and genocide far less frequently involves actual intercourse between assailant and assailed. More common is one of two patterns: (1) forced rape of one “subordinate” male (especially an imprisoned one) by another; or (2) severe sexual torture, up to and including castration (sometimes also committed by one subordinate male against another on the command of a prison guard; reports of both variants surfaced in the Bosnian war-crimes trials)." (461)

"First, the coercion of one’s fellows to inflict the violence is a special feature of sexual violence against males and can be predicted to erode group cohesion in something of the same way that rapes and impregnations of subordinate-group women are expected to do. The ‘feminization’ of male victims certainly threatens the masculine group cohesion that is essential for military action. And, finally, the element of sexual torture and genital damage that figures so strongly in accounts of male rape and sexual violence in conflict situations can be seen as a counterpart to the forced impregnation and cultural humiliation of female victims." (461)

"We need to understand better the fluid, shifting, and contingent character of hegemonic masculinity through history." (462)

"The subject of the deployment of gendered language and propaganda before and during outbreaks of war and genocide deserves close attention for what it might teach us about how the masculine identities of perpetrators are shored up and how the Other is feminized as a prelude to victimization or extermination." (462)

"A significant difficulty is that we still lack a clear empirical picture of the character and scale of victimization inflicted on ‘outgroup’ males, including bearers of subordinate masculinities, throughout history and around the contemporary world."(463)

"One question that preoccupies me is the extent to which male victimization, including the abuse and atrocity meted out to noncombatant males, merits analysis within a ‘human-rights’ framework. We have grown accustomed to the (once-radical) statement that ‘women’s rights are human rights’: that is, gender-specific rights issues are an integral part of broader human-rights framings. Do ‘men’s rights’ deserve similar consideration?"(463)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Men, Boys, Genocide, Sexual Violence, SV against men, Sexuality

Year: 2006

Sexual and Gender Based Violence Against Men in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Effects on Survivors, Their Families and the Community


Christian, Mervyn, Octave Safari, Paul Ramazani, Gilbert Burnham, and Nancy Glass. 2011. “Sexual and Gender Based Violence Against Men in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Effects on Survivors, Their Families and the Community.” Medicine, Conflict, and Survival 27 (4): 227–46.

Authors: Mervyn Christian, Octave Safari, Paul Ramazani, Gilbert Burnham, Nancy Glass


Media and service provider reports of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) perpetrated against men in armed conflicts have increased. However, response to these reports has been limited, as existing evidence and programs have primarily focused on prevention and response to women and girl survivors of SGBV. This study aims to contribute to the evidence of SGBV experienced by males by advancing our understanding of the definition and characteristics of male SGBV and the overlap of health, social and economic consequences on the male survivor, his family and community in conflict and post-conflict settings. The qualitative study using purposive sampling was conducted from June-August 2010 in the South Kivu province of Eastern DRC, an area that has experienced over a decade of armed conflict. Semi structured individual interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with adult male survivors of SGBV, the survivors' wife and/or friend, health care and service providers, community members and leaders. This study found that SGBV against men, as for women, is multi-dimensional and has significant negative physical, mental, social and economic consequences for the male survivor and his family. SGBV perpetrated against men and boys is likely common within a conflict-affected region but often goes unreported by survivors and others due to cultural and social factors associated with sexual assaults, including survivor shame, fear of retaliation by perpetrators and stigma by community members. All key stakeholders in our study advocated for improvements and programs in several areas: (1) health care services, including capacity to identify survivors and increased access to clinical care and psychosocial support for male survivors; (2) economic development initiatives, including microfinance programs, for men and their families to assist them to regain their productive role in the family; (3) community awareness and education of SGBV against men to reduce stigma and discrimination and increase acceptance of survivors by family and larger community. (Ibid, 227)

Keywords: Democratic Republic of Congo, sexual violence, gender-based violence

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Men, Boys, Gender-Based Violence, Sexual Violence, SV against men Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2011


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