Girl Soldiers and Human Rights: Lessons from Angola, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Northern Uganda


Denov, Myriam. 2008. “Girl Soldiers and Human Rights: Lessons from Angola, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Northern Uganda.” International Journal of Human Rights 12 (5): 813–36.

Author: Myriam Denov


The issue of child soldiers has become an issue of global concern. More than 250,000 soldiers under the age of 18 are fighting in conflicts in over 40 countries around the world. While there is ample descriptive evidence of the conditions and factors underlying the rise of child soldiery in the developing world, most of the literature has portrayed this as a uniquely male phenomenon, ultimately neglecting the experiences and perspectives of girls within fighting forces. Drawing upon the findings of three studies funded by the Canadian International Development Agency's Child Protection Research Fund, this paper traces the perspectives and experiences of girls as victims and participants of violence and armed conflict in Angola, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, and Northern Uganda. The three studies collectively reveal three salient themes. First, whether in the heat of conflict or within post-war programming, girls are, for the most part, rendered invisible and marginalised. Second, in spite of this profound invisibility and marginalisation, girls are fundamental to the war machine—their operational contributions are integral and critical to the overall functioning of armed groups. Third, girls in fighting forces contend with overwhelming experiences of victimisation, perpetration, and insecurity. In the aftermath of conflict, girls arguably bear a form of secondary victimisation through socio-economic marginalisation and exclusion, as well as the ongoing threats to their health and personal security.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Health, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Rights, Human Rights, Security, Human Security, Violence Regions: Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa Countries: Angola, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Uganda

Year: 2008

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