Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

Child Soldiers

Female Combatants and the Post-Conflict Process in Sierra Leone

Citation:

Cullen, Laura C. 2020. "Female Combatants and the Post-Conflict Process in Sierra Leone." Journal of International Women's Studies 21 (2): 114-25.

Author: Laura C. Cullen

Abstract:

Women and girls had a specific and gendered experience of the civil war in Sierra Leone. They filled the role of combatants, ‘bush wives’, child soldiers, and sexual slaves. As a result of these roles, women are often described as having dual identities of both perpetrators and victims of violence. This duality resulted in the complex question of how to help these women both reintegrate into society and also address the crimes which they are alleged to have committed during the war. In this paper, I argue that these women and girls should be treated as victims due to the fact that their crimes were committed under coercion. I investigate the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process, performing a critique of its gendered assumptions and its inability to provide adequate assistance to females coerced into combat. I perform a critical analysis of the formation and efficacy of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). I investigate the Special Court’s treatment of the women and girls who were victims coerced into war and potentially held responsible as if they were perpetrators. In doing so, critical deconstruction of the treatment of these women highlights both the hybrid court’s successes and failures in advocating for these women. Throughout the paper, I explore the question of how the post-conflict reconstruction process should treat women and girls, who are victims but who have discursively been positioned also as perpetrators.

Keywords: female combatants, women combatants, Special Court for Sierra Leone, bush wives, DDR, child soldiers, post-conflict resolutions, international criminal justice, hybrid courts, gendered assumptions in the post-conflict process

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Women, Girls, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, TRCs, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, Sexual Slavery Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2020

Gender, Peacekeeping, and Child Soldiers: Training and Research in Implementation of the Vancouver Principles

Citation:

Johnson, Dustin, and Allyssa Walsh. 2020. "Gender, Peacekeeping, and Child Soldiers: Training and Research in Implementation of the Vancouver Principles." Allons-yJournal of Children, Peace and Security 4: 51-60.

Authors: Dustin Johnson, Alyssa Walsh

Abstract:

Since the passage of UN Security Council resolution 1325, there has been a growing focus on the involvement of women in peacekeeping operations. Ambitious UN targets, the Vancouver Principles, and the Canadian government’s Elsie Initiative all aim to support the increased inclusion of uniformed women in peacekeeping missions. This article discusses three areas in which the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative (Dallaire Initiative) is working to support Vancouver Principle (VP) 11 through the training of women security sector actors, training on gendered dimensions of the recruitment and use of child soldiers and SGBV against child soldiers, and through research on how gender matters in peacekeeping operations. Based on these experiences and an engagement with the academic literature, it makes a number of policy recommendations in support of VP 11.

Keywords: gender, peacekeeping, training, child soldiers, SGBV

Topics: Age, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, International Organizations, Peacekeeping, Sexual Violence, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325 Regions: Americas, North America Countries: Canada

Year: 2020

Prosecuting Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes at the International Criminal Court

Citation:

Grey, Rosemary. 2019. Prosecuting Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes at the International Criminal Court. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Author: Rosemary Grey

Annotation:

Summary: 
The 1998 Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC), includes a longer list of gender-based crimes than any previous instrument of international criminal law. The Statute's twentieth anniversary provides an opportunity to examine how successful the ICC has been in prosecuting those crimes, what challenges it has faced, and how its caselaw on these crimes might develop in future. Taking up that opportunity, this book analyses the ICC's practice in prosecuting gender-based crimes across all cases for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in the ICC up until mid-2018. This analysis is based on a detailed examination of court records and original interviews with prosecutors and gender experts at the Court. This book covers topics of emerging interest to practitioners in this field, including wartime sexual violence against men and boys, persecution on the grounds of gender and sexual orientation, and sexual violence against 'child soldiers'. (Summary from Cambridge University Press)

 

Topics: Combatants, Child Soldiers, Feminisms, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, Genocide, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, Crimes against Humanity, War Crimes, LGBTQ, Sexual Violence, SV against men

Year: 2019

Gender Politics and Geopolitics of International Criminal Law in Uganda

Citation:

Bunting, Annie. 2018. "Gender Politics and Geopolitics of International Criminal Law in Uganda." Global Discourse 8 (3): 422-37.

Author: Annie Bunting

Abstract:

This paper explores the views of victim survivors – both men and women – on the current prosecution of Dominic Ongwen at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, including the crime of forced marriage. This case will be used as the central story around which the potential and limitations of international criminal law for gender justice will be explored. The Ongwen case has blurred the lines between victims and perpetrators of child soldiering and has generated much debate within and outside the continent. It has resuscitated the contestation and controversies surrounding the ICC regime in Uganda and Africa more broadly. The reflections I share in this paper come out of a collaborative research project I direct called ‘Conjugal Slavery in War: Partnerships for the study of enslavement, marriage and masculinities’ (CSiW 2015-2020). While Uganda and the Ongwen case will be central to this paper, our research project includes partners working with survivors of conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and northern Nigeria. We collected well over 250 interviews with women who were abducted for forced marriage. Using interview data from Uganda, as well as court records, this paper explores in-depth the geopolitics and gender politics of prosecuting conjugal slavery as an international crime.

Keywords: ICC, gender violence, Crimes against Humanity, transitional justice

Topics: Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, Crimes against Humanity, Transitional Justice, Sexual Violence, Sexual Slavery Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2018

Demobilisation of Female Ex-Combatants in Colombia

Citation:

Schwitalla, Gunhild, and Luisa Maria Dietrich. 2007. “Demobilisation of Female Ex-Combatants in Colombia.” Forced Migration Review 27: 58–9.

Authors: Gunhild Schwitalla, Luisa Maria Dietrich

Annotation:

Summary: 
"Among the millions of Colombian IDPs one group is particularly invisible – women and girls associated with illegal armed groups. The current demobilisation process does not adequately address the consequences of the sexual violence they have suffered before, during and after conflict" (Schwitalla and Dietrich 2007, 58).

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, DDR, Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Gender, Women, Girls, Gender-Based Violence, Conflict, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Paramilitaries, Non-state Armed Groups, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2007

Locating “Queer” in Contemporary Writing of Love and War in Nigeria

Citation:

Munro, Brenna. 2016. “Locating ‘Queer’ in Contemporary Writing of Love and War in Nigeria.” Research in African Literatures 47 (2): 121–38.

Author: Brenna Munro

Abstract:

The child soldier novel is not usually read in terms of sexuality; however, sexual trauma, sex between men and boys, and the production of damaged masculinities are central to representations of the boy soldier in contem- porary writing about war from Nigeria, including Chris Abani’s Song for Night (2007), Uzodinma Iweala’s Beasts of No Nation (2005), and Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun (2006). The queer gures of the perverse adult military man and the violated and violating boy soldier emerge in complex relation to contemporary representations of the Nigerian gay man—and all of these texts negotiate the politics of sex and race across multiple reading publics. Jude Dibia’s gay character Adrian in Walking with Shadows (2005) asserts legibility and respectability in sharp contrast to the queer subjectivi- ties of war writing, for example, yet all of these texts dramatize negotiations with stigma as it circulates across representations of sexuality.

 

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Men, Boys, LGBTQ, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-state Armed Groups, Race, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, SV against men, Terrorism Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Nigeria

Year: 2016

Moderators of Treatment Effectiveness for War-Affected Youth With Depression in Northern Uganda

Citation:

Betancourt, Theresa S., Elizabeth A. Newnham, Robert T. Brennan, Helen Verdeli, Ivelina Borisova, Richard Neugebauer, Judith Bass, and Paul Bolton. 2012. “Moderators of Treatment Effectiveness for War-Affected Youth With Depression in Northern Uganda.” Journal of Adolescent Health 51 (6): 544–50. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.02.010.

Authors: Theresa S. Betancourt, Elizabeth A. Newnham, Robert T. Brennan, Helen Verdeli, Ivelina Borisova, Richard Neugebauer, Judith Bass, Paul Bolton

Abstract:

Purpose: As we build the evidence base of interventions for depression among war-affected youth, it is critical to understand factors moderating treatment outcomes. The current study investigated how gender and history of abduction by Lord’s Resistance Army rebels moderated treatment outcomes for war-affected youth.

Methods: The study—a three-armed, randomized, controlled trial—was conducted with internally displaced war-affected adolescents in northern Uganda. Participants with significant depression symptoms (N 304; 57% female; 14 –17 years of age) were randomly assigned to an interpersonal psychotherapy group (IPT-G), a creative play/recreation group, or a wait-list control condition. Secondary analyses were conducted on data from this randomized controlled trial.

Results: A history of abduction by Lord’s Resistance Army rebels was reported by 42% of the sample. Gender and abduction history interacted to moderate the effectiveness of IPT-G for the treatment of depression. In the IPT-G intervention arm, treatment effectiveness was greatest among female subjects without an abduction history, with effect size 1.06. IPT-G was effective for the treatment of depression for both male and female subjects with a history of abduction (effect size .92 and .50, respectively). Male subjects with no abduction history in IPT-G showed no significant improvement compared with those in the control conditions.

Conclusions: Abduction history and gender are potentially important moderators of treatment effects, suggesting that these factors need to be considered when providing interventions for war-affected youth. IPT-G may be an effective intervention for female subjects without an abduction history, as well as for both male and female former child soldiers, but less so for male subjects without an abduction history. 

 

Keywords: war, depression, Treatment moderators, Interpersonal therapy, child soldiers

Topics: Age, Youth, Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Health, Mental Health Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2012

Past Horrors, Present Struggles: The Role of Stigma in the Association between War Experiences and Psychosocial Adjustment among Former Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone

Citation:

Betancourt, Theresa S., Jessica Agnew-Blais, Stephen E. Gilman, David R. Williams, and B. Heidi Ellis. 2010. “Past Horrors, Present Struggles: The Role of Stigma in the Association between War Experiences and Psychosocial Adjustment among Former Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone.” Social Science & Medicine 70 (1): 17–26. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.09.038.

Authors: Theresa S. Betancourt, Jessica Agnew-Blais, Stephen E. Gilman, David R. Williams, B. Heidi Ellis

Abstract:

Upon returning to their communities, children formerly associated with armed forces and armed groups–commonly referred to as child soldiers–often confront significant community stigma. Much research on the reintegration and rehabilitation of child soldiers has focused on exposure to past war-related violence and mental health outcomes, yet no empirical work has yet examined the role that post-conflict stigma plays in shaping long-term psychosocial adjustment. Two waves of data are used in this paper from the first prospective study of male and female former child soldiers in Sierra Leone. We examined the role of stigma (manifest in discrimination as well as lower levels of community and family acceptance) in the relationship between war-related experiences and psychosocial adjustment (depression, anxiety, hostility and adaptive behaviors). Former child soldiers differ from one another with regard to their post-war experiences, and these differences profoundly shape their psychosocial adjustment over time. Consistent with social stress theory, we observed that post-conflict factors such as stigma can play an important role in shaping psychosocial adjustment in former child soldiers. We found that discrimination was inversely associated with family and community acceptance. Additionally, higher levels of family acceptance were associated with decreased hostility, while improvements in community acceptance were associated with adaptive attitudes and behaviors. We found that post-conflict experi- ences of discrimination largely explained the relationship between past involvement in wounding/killing others and subsequent increases in hostility. Stigma similarly mediated the relationship between surviving rape and depression. However, surviving rape continued to demonstrate independent effects on increases in anxiety, hostility and adaptive/prosocial behaviors after adjusting for other variables. These findings point to the complexity of psychosocial adjustment and community reintegration in these youth and have a number of programmatic and policy implications. 

 

Keywords: war, mental health, children, adolescents, child soldiers, trauma, Stigma, Sierra Leone

Topics: Age, Youth, Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2010

Interdependent Preferences, Militarism, and Child Gender

Citation:

Urbatsch, R. “Interdependent Preferences, Militarism, and Child Gender.” International Studies Quarterly 53, no. 1 (March 1, 2009): 1–21. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2478.2008.01521.x.

Author: R. Urbatsch

Abstract:

Selection effects make it difficult to determine whether concern for other people genuinely affects individuals’ policy preferences. Child gender provides a conveniently exogenous means of exploring the issue, especially in contexts such as military policy where girls and boys face different risks; in many countries male children are disproportionately likely to become soldiers and thus bear the costs of militarism. This creates divergent effects: those in households with girls generally prefer more hawkish foreign policies than do members of households with boys. Data from the 2004 American National Election Study confirm these intuitions, both in general statements of policy preference and in evaluating the net costs of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Girls, Boys, Gender Balance, Elections, Households Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2009

Barefoot, Pregnant and in the Kitchen: Am I a Child Soldier Too?

Citation:

Mouthaan, Solange. 2015. “Barefoot, Pregnant and in the Kitchen: Am I a Child Soldier Too?” Women’s Studies International Forum 51: 91–100. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2014.11.004.

 

Author: Solange Mouthaan

Annotation:

Synopsis:
International law protects children from abuse, including sexual abuse, and from discrimination based on gender. It also prohibits the recruitment and use of child soldiers, but these provisions do not distinguish between boys and girls and their different experiences of armed conflict. International law also protects women from sexual violence or from discrimination based on gender, but does so without age distinction. This does not mean that girls' experiences of armed conflict are entirely precluded. For instance, the Cape Town Principles and Paris Principles single out girls as being specifically used for sexual purposes. However, no concrete international law provision attempts to protect girl child soldiers from sexual violence carried out by a member of the armed group they belong to. Consequently, an explicit link is missing within these different provisions to ensure that the use of child soldiers is understood widely enough to include sexual abuse against girls.

Topics: Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, International Law, Sexual Violence

Year: 2015

Pages

© 2020 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 - Child Soldiers