Child Soldiers

The Problem of Child Soldiers

Citation:

Druba, Volker. 2002. “The Problem of Child Soldiers.” International Review of Education / Internationale Zeitschrift Für Erziehungswissenschaft / Revue Internationale de l’Education 48 (3): 271–77.

Author: Volker Druba

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

Year: 2002

Gender, Responsibility, and the Grey Zone: Considerations for Transitional Justice

Citation:

Baines, Erin. 2011. “Gender, Responsibility, and the Grey Zone: Considerations for Transitional Justice.” Journal of Human Rights 10 (4): 477-93.

Author: Erin Baines

Abstract:

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has forcibly recruited tens of thousands of youth from northern Uganda, Southern Sudan, and more presently the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. The longer that abducted youth spend inside the armed group, the more likely they will assume positions of command. These roles are differentiated on the basis of sex and gender expectations: young men are more likely to become active combatants and young women are more likely to become forced “wives” and mothers. As a result, forcibly recruited male and female youth are assumed to hold different degrees of responsibility. Comparing the life stories of an abducted male and female youth who became LRA commanders, I argue that each made choices within a state of coerced militarized masculinity. The question of responsibility must be located in the context of a present-day grey zone, and must unsettle gendered assumptions about men and women, and guilt and innocence. Transitional justice has only begun to grapple with the ambiguity of gender, responsibility, and the grey zone.

Topics: Age, Youth, Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Justice, Transitional Justice, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Uganda

Year: 2011

Forced Marriage as a Political Project: Sexual Rules and Relations in the Lord’s Resistance Army

Citation:

Baines, Erin. 2014. “Forced Marriage as a Political Project: Sexual Rules and Relations in the Lord’s Resistance Army.” Journal of Peace Research 51 (3): 405–17.

Author: Erin Baines

Abstract:

One of the most vexing contradictions about the Uganda originated rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), is the fact that it institutionalized forced marriage on the one hand, while actively discouraging sexually immoral behavior on the other: rape, sexual violence, and promiscuity both within the group and outside it were punishable by severe beating or death. What explains this contradiction? The article suggests that in addition to maintaining discipline and control over a diverse and reluctant group, forced marriage and the regulation of sexual relations reproduced a political project of imagining a ‘new Acholi’ nation. The article draws on original data collected in focus group discussions with former commanders and wives to commanders to discuss the historical evolution of this vision, how the LRA enforced rules regarding sexual behavior, and finally, the way forced marriage implicated women and girls in the organization of power and domination in the group until it was forced from permanent bases in Sudan in 2002.

Keywords: armed groups, forced marriage, Lord's resistance army, rape, sexual violence

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Sexual Violence, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2014

Girl Soldiers: Towards a Gendered Understanding of Wartimes Recruitment, Participation, and Demobilisation

Citation:

Denov, Myriam, and Alexandra Ricard-Guay. 2013. “Girl Soldiers: Towards a Gendered Understanding of Wartimes Recruitment, Participation, and Demobilisation.” Gender & Development 21 (3): 473–88. doi:10.1080/13552074.2013.846605.

Authors: Myriam Denov, Alexandra Ricard-Guay

Abstract:

Scholarship on political violence and armed conflict has long been gender-blind. Often subsumed within the category of ‘children’ (who are assumed to be male in the context of soldiery), girl soldiers have been subjected to a double invisibility. However, in the last decade the literature dedicated to the topic of girls within armed groups has grown. We now have a much clearer understanding of girls’ strengths and challenges, and clear evidence of their overall marginalisation both during wartime violence and following demobilisation. What is now needed is to implement what we have learnt, to support girls in the aftermath of violence, particularly in the long term. This article seeks to provide an overview of what is known about girl soldiers. It explores their entry into armed groups, and their multiple roles and wartime experiences, as well as their experiences of demobilisation and reintegration. To support the points raised, we highlight the voices and experiences of nine former girl soldiers from Colombia, and eight former girl soldiers from Sierra Leone, who were interviewed in 2010 and 2011. The realities of girls affected by armed conflict vary in different contexts, yet there are similarities. Girls’ options, roles, power relations, both during conflict and following demobilisation, are embedded within broader gendered power structures and identities.

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

Year: 2013

Young Female Fighters in African Wars

Citation:

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

Abstract:

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

Amazons Appear

Citation:

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

Citation:

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

Citation:

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

Abstract:

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: Age, Youth, 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

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

Child Soldiers: Changing a Culture of Violence

Citation:

Becker, Jo. 2005. “Child Soldiers: Changing a Culture of Violence.” Human Rights 32 (1): 16–18.

Author: Jo Becker

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Development, Gender, International Law, International Human Rights, Rights, Human Rights

Year: 2005

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