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Child Soldiers

The Civil War That Was Fought by Children: Understanding the Role of Child Combatants in El Salvador’s Civil War, 1980-1992

Citation:

Courtney, Jocelyn. 2010. “The Civil War That Was Fought by Children: Understanding the Role of Child Combatants in El Salvador’s Civil War, 1980-1992.” Journal of Military History 74 (2):523-56.

Author: Jocelyn Courtney

Abstract:

From 1980 to 1992, the Salvadoran government and the Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation (FMLN) fought each other in a civil conflict that devastated El Salvador, killing 75,000 people and leaving thousands more homeless or injured. Over 80 percent of the government's troops and over 20 percent of the FMLN's were under eighteen years of age; however, thus far, historians have missed the centrality of the role of children in this conflict. This article explores the legacy of both sides' reliance on child soldiers and examines the costs of child soldiering in terms of demobilization issues and postwar societal problems.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Post-Conflict Regions: Americas, Central America Countries: El Salvador

Year: 2010

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

Citation:

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

Abstract:

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

Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict

Citation:

Leatherman, Janie. 2011. Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict. Cambridge: Polity.

Author: Janie Leatherman

Annotation:

Summary: 
This book offers a comprehensive analysis of the causes, consequences and responses to sexual violence in contemporary armed conflict. It explores the function and effect of wartime sexual violence and examines the conditions that make women  and girls most vulnerable to these acts both before, during and after conflict. To understand the motivations of the men (and occasionally women) who perpetrate this violence, the book analyzes the role played by systemic and situational factors such as patriarchy and militarized masculinity. Difficult questions of accountability are tackled; in particular, the case of child soldiers, who often suffer a double victimization when forced to commit sexual atrocities. The book concludes by looking at strategies of prevention and protection as well as new programs being set up on the ground to support the rehabilitation of survivors and their communities. Sexual violence in war has long been a taboo subject but, as this book shows, new and courageous steps are at last being taken at both local and international level - to end what has been called the “greatest silence in history.” (Summary from Amazon) 

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Women, Girls, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism, Militarization, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence

Year: 2011

Marginalization of girl mothers during reintegration from armed groups in Sierra Leone

Citation:

Burman, Mary, and Suzan McKay. 2007. “Marginalization of girl mothers during reintegration from armed groups in Sierra Leone.” International Nursing Review 54 (4): 316-23.

Authors: Mary Burman, Suzan McKay

Abstract:

BACKGROUND: Although the widespread presence of girls who participate in fighting forces is increasingly recognized, they remain a highly marginalized group globally, receiving little attention either during or after armed conflict. This is especially true for "girl mothers," girls who return to communities with children born while members of fighting forces.

AIM: The concept of marginalization (Hall et al. 1994) is used to examine what happens to girl soldiers, especially girl mothers, in the aftermath of armed conflict when they seek to reintegrate back into their communities.

METHODS: This analysis, as part of a larger study of reintegration of girl mothers, is based on field work with girls who were in fighting forces in northwest Sierra Leone, especially those who returned with children.

FINDINGS: The type and level of marginalization these girls experience is consistent with the conceptualization of marginalization; however, they lack voice and experience shame and vulnerability. Moreover, economics were fundamentally related to their marginalization. The girls' access to resources was significantly constrained because the area was heavily impacted by the war and because of widespread poverty throughout Sierra Leone.

DISCUSSION: The findings raise important questions about marginalization of girls affected by war. Girls and girl mothers experience an extremely high level of marginalization; however, some aspects are not consistent with the original conceptualization of marginalization. Theory development in nursing needs to incorporate multiple voices, especially those of the very marginalized and be done in such a manner that benefits and empowers.

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

Year: 2007

Child Soldiers in the Civil War in Sierra Leone

Citation:

Zack-Williams, Tunde. 2001. “Child Soldiers in the Civil War in Sierra Leone.” Review of African Political Economy 28 (87): 73-82.

Author: Tunde Zack-Williams

Abstract:

This article examines the factors which have brought children into social movements challenging those wielding political power in Sierra Leone. It reviews the manner of their recruitment and the roles they have played in the civil war. The analysis is premised on the notion that peripheral capitalism has transformed the form of the family, loosening controls over children. With ongoing crises in both the economic and political realms undermining kinship structures and leaving children with little security, some have turned to surrogate families for protection, either on the street or in the ranks of combatants. Although some of the children who have participated in the war have been volunteers, thousands more have been abducted and socialised via brute violence by both sides.

Topics: Age, Youth, Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Boys, Violence Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2001

Child Soldiers, Peace Education, and Postconflict Reconstruction for Peace

Citation:

Wessells, Michael. 2005. “Child Soldiers, Peace Education, and Postconflict Reconstruction for Peace.” Theory Into Practice 44 (4): 363-69.

Author: Michael Wessells

Abstract:

Worldwide, children are drawn into lives as soldiers and terrorism as the result of forced recruitment and also by extremist ideologies and their inability to obtain security, food, power, prestige, education, and positive life options through civilian means. Using an example from Sierra Leone, this article shows that peace education is an essential element in a holistic approach to the reintegration of former child soldiers and to the prevention of youth's engagement in violence and terrorism. In the post-conflict context, effective peace education has a stronger practical than didactic focus, and it stimulates empathy, cooperation, reconciliation, and community processes for handling conflict in a nonviolent manner. These processes play a key role also in the prevention of children's engagement in violence and terrorism.

Topics: Age, Youth, Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, DDR, Education, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Peacebuilding, Terrorism, Violence Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2005

Post-conflict Reintegration and Gender: Why Male Child Soldiers Have Been Denied Sexual and Reproductive Health Assistance in Post-conflict Societies?

Citation:

Ackley, Judith M. 2009. “Post-conflict Reintegration and Gender: Why Male Child Soldiers Have Been Denied Sexual and Reproductive Health Assistance in Post-conflict Societies?” PhD Diss., Webster University.

Author: Judith M. Ackley

Abstract:

In analyzing five of the most recent civil conflicts in Africa, civilians are in great danger. The targeting of civilians, specifically women and children, has increased dramatically for various reasons. This has led to a rapid expansion of conflict and post-conflict research in two fields: child soldiers and gender. The research on the issue of child soldiers has expanded as quickly as the number of children recruited every year. The same is true with respect to the field of gender. Presently, experts incorporate a gender-based approach to address the causes of and solutions to problems created by armed conflict. As the definition of gender has evolved, it has expanded to the political, economic, and social realms of societies. An engendered approach to post-conflict reconstruction has worked to ensure the inclusion of women and girls and recently men. Still, when discussing an engendered approach to post-conflict health, specifically sexual and reproductive health, the definition of gender has forgotten boys. Post-conflict programs should be expanded to make policy and theory into reality and action.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Child Soldiers, DDR, Gender, Boys, Health, Reproductive Health, Humanitarian Assistance, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Africa

Year: 2009

Victims of Modern Warfare: Girl Child Soldiers

Citation:

Cutchin, Claudine, and Adena Rivas. 2009. “Victims of Modern Warfare: Girl Child Soldiers.” Journal for the Liberal Arts and Sciences 14 (1): 133-44.

Authors: Claudine Cutchin, Adena Rivas

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

Year: 2009

Girl Soldiers and Participation in Hostilities

Citation:

Quénivet, Noëlle. 2008. “Girl Soldiers and Participation in Hostilities.” African Journal of International and Comparative Law 16 (2): 219–35.

Author: Noëlle Quénivet

Abstract:

Recently, organisations working with former child soldiers have observed the growing number of girls involved in armed conflicts. While their fate as sexual slaves is well documented, their participation in hostilities is less acknowledged. Girls, like boys, spy, loot, and kill, but they also cook, clean, and run camps. International humanitarian law, human rights law and international criminal law ban the participation of children in armed conflicts. However, the interpretation of the expression ‘participation in hostilities’ leaves open the possibility that the activities carried out by girls do not fall within the purview of this prohibition, and that, hence, their recruiters are not breaching the aforementioned legal norms.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, Gender, Girls, International Law, International Criminal Law, International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law IHL, Sexual Violence, Sexual Slavery

Year: 2008

Scratching the Surface: A Comparison of Girl Soldiers from Three Geographic Regions of the World

Citation:

Spellings, Carolyn R. 2008. “Scratching the Surface: A Comparison of Girl Soldiers from Three Geographic Regions of the World.” International Education 38 (1): 14–39.

Author: Carolyn R. Spellings

Abstract:

Over 300,000 children are estimated to be conscripted participants in  conflicts throughout the world. Depending on the particular armed group that employs child soldiers, girls represent 6 to 50% of child soldiers. Despite this prevalence of involvement, the experience of girls as soldiers in war and political conflict has rarely been investigated. In order to build a foundation for more focused study on girl soldier experiences, this literature review aims to provide a comprehensive report of girl soldiers throughout the world. The analysis focused on three aspects of conflict experience: (1) how girls become affiliated with armed groups; (2) their experiences while associated with armed groups; and (3) the effects of participation in war. Particular attention was given to whether girls' experiences vary across geographic area. Generally, in African conflicts (e.g., Sierra Leone and northern Uganda) girls become affiliated with armed groups through abduction. Often, they experience sexual abuse and, as a result, are stigmatized by their families and communities when they return home. In contrast, in the Americas (e.g., Colombia and El Salvador) and in Indonesia/South Pacific (e.g., Philippines and Sri Lanka) girls become involved as an escape from unpleasant home lives. These girls are less likely to experience sexual abuse, and do not experience the same stigmatization from families and communities. Often these girls are taught a skill, such as nursing, while with an armed group but are unable to find job opportunities post-war using their newly acquired skill. The apparent variations in girls' experiences in armed conflict have implications for both research and application in helping focus attention on the conflict-specific aspects of girls' experiences. In some regions both research and applied efforts need to focus on the effects and treatment of sexual abuse, whereas in other conflicts, time and resources would be better spent at understanding and promoting female integration into the post-conflict occupational sphere.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Gender, Girls, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

Year: 2008

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