Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

Sierra Leone

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

Citation:

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

Abstract:

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

The Special Court for Sierra Leone, Child Soldiers, and Forced Marriage: Providing Clarity or Confusion

Citation:

Oosterveld, Valerie. 2007. “The Special Court for Sierra Leone, Child Soldiers, and Forced Marriage: Providing Clarity or Confusion.” Canadian Yearbook of International Law 45: 131.

Author: Valerie Oosterveld

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2007

Crimes Against Child Soldiers in Armed Conflict Situations: Application and Limits of International Humanitarian Law

Citation:

Wells, Sarah L. 2004. “Crimes Against Child Soldiers in Armed Conflict Situations: Application and Limits of International Humanitarian Law.” Tulane Journal of International and Comparative Law 12: 287-305.

Author: Sarah L. Wells

Abstract:

This article examines the application of international humanitarian law to crimes committed against child soildiers during the ten-year civil war in Sierra Leone. The author suggests that while historically, developments in international law took account of the vulnerability of children in wartime, international humanitarian law maintains that dated categories of protection do not reflect conditions of modern armed conflicts. The author argues that, instead, the experiences of child soldiers suggest that international legal prohibitions on the involvement of children in combat provide vastly inadequate legal protection. The author relies in this respect on research on crimes committed against child combatants in Sierra Leone and the limitations of international humanitarian law in relation to the prosecution of those crimes. The author argues that in order to remain relevant and effective, new developments in the field of international humanitarian law must address dated and inaccurate distinctions, which act to preclude needed legal protection of those among the most vulnerable in wartime. 

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, International Law, International Humanitarian Law IHL, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2004

Addressing Gender-Based Violence in the Sierra Leone Conflict: Notes from the Field

Citation:

Teale, Lotta. 2009. “Addressing Gender-Based Violence in the Sierra Leone Conflict: Notes from the Field.” African Journal on Conflict Resolution 9 (2): 69-90.

Author: Lotta Teale

Abstract:

Sierra Leone’s transition has witnessed a number of landmark procedural and legal innovations which have had widespread implications for international gender justice. The 11-year conflict had shattered the country, leaving more than a million people displaced and thousands of women coping with the aftermath of sexual violence. Then, in 1999, the Lomé Peace Accord in 1999 traded amnesty for peace and made provision for the establishment of the Sierra Leone Truth Commission. The United Nations Security Council subsequently established a Special Court to prosecute those who bore ‘the greatest responsibility’ for atrocities committed during the conflict. However, while both the Truth Commission and the Special Court made some unique strides in promoting gender justice, the perception among gender activists is that both initiatives fell short in addressing the country’s gender-based human rights violations. Questions abound over the real impact of the Special Court, not least because there are issues over how much justice victims achieve through the prosecution of only those with command responsibility. Although the Truth Commission had a more far-reaching ambit and did confront some aspects of the country’s gendered past, its long-term impact has yet to be realised and its gender-sensitive recommendations have yet to be implemented. This article will assess Sierra Leone’s transition through an analysis of its successes and failures in addressing gender-based violations committed during the conflict and will examine how far gender justice has been achieved.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, TRCs, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2009

Forced Marriage as a Crime Against Humanity: Problems of Definition and Prosecution

Citation:

Jain, Neha. 2008. “Forced Marriage as a Crime Against Humanity: Problems of Definition and Prosecution.” Journal of International Criminal Justice 6 (5): 1013–32.

Author: Neha Jain

Abstract:

Forced marriages are a pervasive feature of armed conflicts around the world, such as in Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Rwanda and Uganda. Despite forced marriage having been charged and recently affirmed as an international crime before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), courts and commentators have paid little attention to examining its viability as a distinct category of crime in international law. This article analyses the SCSL's characterization of forced marriage as conduct subsumed within the category of other inhumane acts. It isolates the constituent elements of the crime of forced marriage through comparative case studies of Sierra Leone and Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. The author addresses the issue of whether forced marriage can be distinguished from arranged marriages on the one hand, and sexual slavery on the other, to justify its prosecution as an ‘other inhumane act’ as part of crimes against humanity.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Girls, International Law, Justice, Crimes against Humanity, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, West Africa, Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda

Year: 2008

Beyond Survival: Militarism, Equity and Women’s Security

Citation:

Mama, Amina. 2014. “Beyond Survival: Militarism, Equity and Women’s Security.” In Development and Equity: An Interdisciplinary Exploration by Ten Scholars from Africa, Asia and Latin America, edited by Dick Foeken, Ton Dietz, Leo De Haan, and Linda Johnson, 29-46. Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV.

Author: Amina Mama

Abstract:

This paper explores the tension between the prospects for equitable development and the global investments in militarism. It argues that militarism – a highly gendered economic, political and cultural phenomenon – not only sustains underdevelopment in poorer nations, but also poses a key obstacle to gender equity in militarized societies more generally. Evidence from current research on the Nigerian, Liberian and Sierra Leonean civil wars illustrates women’s increased participation in more recent conflicts, their improvised livelihood strategies and their contribution in peace activism. In the era of neoliberal globalization, postcolonial militarism continues to undermine the prospects for democratization, social justice and genuine security, especially for women. An effective strategy for addressing the dual perils of militarism and gender inequality requires strengthening the work of the women’s movements, to engage in more effective evidence-based advocacy that highlights and challenges the gendered political, economic and cultural foundations of militarism and insecurity.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Combatants, Female Combatants, Economies, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Gender Equity, Livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism, Political Participation Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone

Year: 2014

‘Other Inhumane Acts’: Forced Marriage, Girl Soldiers and the Special Court for Sierra Leone

Citation:

Park, Augustine S. J. 2006. “‘Other Inhumane Acts’: Forced Marriage, Girl Soldiers and the Special Court for Sierra Leone.” Social & Legal Studies 15 (3): 315–37.

 

Author: Augustine S. J. Park

Abstract:

The decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone gained international notoriety for the widespread use of child soldiers, and the sexual abuse and ‘forced’ marriage of girl soldiers. For the first time in international legal history, ‘forced marriage’ is being prosecuted as a ‘crime against humanity’ in Sierra Leone’s post-conflict ‘Special Court’. This represents an important step in advancing the human rights of girls, and follows a growing trend in international criminal prosecution of gender offences. Notwithstanding the significance of this indictment, international law is no panacea for the deeper inequalities and vulnerabilities that girls experience in peacetime and in wartime. This article advocates a specific focus on girls, who are often ‘disappeared’ under discourses of children and women. Moreover, using recommendations from Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, this article attempts to point to social and economic inequalities that must be addressed alongside criminal prosecution of gendered crimes against humanity.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, Gender, Girls, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, Crimes against Humanity, International Tribunals & Special Courts, TRCs, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, SV against women Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2006

Female Combatants and the Perpetration of Violence: War Time Rape in the Sierra Leone Civil War

Citation:

Cohen, Dara Kay. 2013. “Female Combatants and the Perpetration of Violence: War Time Rape in the Sierra Leone Civil War.” World Politics 65 (3): 383–415.

Author: Dara Kay Cohen

Abstract:

Much of the current scholarship on wartime violence, including studies of the combatants themselves, assumes that women are victims and men are perpetrators. However, there is an increasing awareness that women in armed groups may be active fighters who function as more than just cooks, cleaners, and sexual slaves. In this article, the author focuses on the involvement of female fighters in a form of violence that is commonly thought to be perpetrated only by men: the wartime rape of noncombatants. Using original interviews with ex-combatants and newly available survey data, she finds that in the Sierra Leone civil war, female combatants were participants in the widespread conflict-related violence, including gang rape. A growing body of evidence from other conflicts suggests that Sierra Leone is not an anomaly and that women likely engage in conflict-related violence, including sexual violence, more often than is currently believed. Many standard interpretations of wartime rape are undermined by the participation of female perpetrators. To explain the involvement of women in wartime rape, the author argues that women in armed group units face similar pressure to that faced by their male counterparts to participate in gang rape. The study has broad implications for future avenues of research on wartime violence, as well as for policy.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Men, Sexual Violence, Female Perpetrators, Male Perpetrators, Rape, SV against men, SV against women, Violence Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2013

Transnational Mining Corporations and Sustainable Resource-Based Livelihoods in Sierra Leone: Mining Corporations and Sustainable Livelihoods

Citation:

Akiwumi, Fenda A. 2011. “Transnational Mining Corporations and Sustainable Resource-Based Livelihoods in Sierra Leone: Mining Corporations and Sustainable Livelihoods.” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 32 (1): 53–70. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9493.2011.00419.x.

Author: Fenda A. Akiwumi

Abstract:

This paper draws from world-systems and sustainable livelihoods approaches to analyze the connections between multinational exports of rutile (titanium oxide), diminished ecological resources and resource-based livelihoods, and gendered household dynamics in a peripheralized mining region in Sierra Leone. The discussion focuses on how the extraction of mineral resources instigated by exogenous capital investors forces links to household transformation, particularly the vulnerability context of women. Using archival records and field survey data, the case study of rutile mining in southwestern Sierra Leone connects the low-waged mining labour of traditional resource-based subsistence communities and deepening marginalization of and financial pressures on women in mining households to global mineral markets. The study focuses on women’s coping mechanisms that are embedded within traditional social networks in relation to an external intervention, a low-tech mechanical cassava grater, intended to strengthen their livelihoods. It finds that the potential for this transformation is impeded by sociocultural, environmental and financial limitations.

Keywords: Sierra Leone, gender, mining, sustainable livelihoods, world systems theory

Topics: Economies, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Globalization, Households, Livelihoods, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2011

Assessing the Integration of Gender Issues into Security Reforms in Sierra Leone (2002-2007)

Citation:

Barnes, Karen. 2011. “Assessing the Integration of Gender Issues into Security Reforms in Sierra Leone (2002-2007).” Paper presented at International Studies Association Annual Conference, Montreal, Quebec, March 16-19.

Author: Karen Barnes

Abstract:

The reform of security institutions has gathered momentum within peacebuilding processes over the past decade, and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) and justice and security sector reform (JSSR) are increasingly seen as means of ensuring a transparent, accountable and democratic security sector in conflict-affected contexts. However, these processes tend to focus on the national-level and are implemented in a top-down manner with little input from stakeholders at the local level, and gender-differentiated security needs are rarely acknowledged and integrated into peacebuilding programming. Using Sierra Leone as a case study, this paper will assess the efforts to integrate gender into the DDR, SSR and justice reform processes during the peacebuilding process from 2002-2007. The paper will argue that women were not perceived to be part of the process of establishing security in Sierra Leone and were depoliticised into the private sphere. As a result, the security reforms did not necessarily meet their needs, and gender issues have not been addressed in the post-conflict phase.

Topics: Armed Conflict, DDR, Gender, Women, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, Security Sector Reform Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2011

Pages

© 2019 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.

Subscribe to RSS - Sierra Leone