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Child Soldiers

Girls and Small Arms in Sierra Leone: Victimization, Participation, and Resistance

Citation:

Denov, Myriam, and Richard Maclure. 2005. “Girls and Small Arms in Sierra Leone: Victimization, Participation, and Resistance.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, Honolulu, March 5.

Authors: Myriam Denov, Richard Maclure

Abstract:

Despite the protections provided to children under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the issue of child soldiers has become a major global concern. More than 300,000 soldiers under the age of 18 are fighting in conflicts in 41 countries around the world. During Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war, close to 20,000 children were actively engaged as participants in armed struggle. While there is ample descriptive evidence of the conditions and factors underlying the rise of child soldiery in Sierra Leone and elsewhere in the developing world, most of the literature has portrayed this as a uniquely male phenomenon. Yet in Sierra Leone an estimated 30 percent of child soldiers in oppositional forces were girls. So far, however, there is little empirical information that distinguishes the experiences of these girls from those of boys. In particular, very little is known about the forces that propelled girls into armed conflict, about their experiences and perceptions of war, or about their unique psycho-social needs. Likewise, while demobilization and reintegration have been recognized as essential to sustainable peace-building in Sierra Leone, there are clear risks that implementation of such programmes will proceed according to conditionalities that fail to acknowledge gender distinctions and the ideal of 'empowering' female and male youth. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 32 Sierra Leonean girls formerly in fighting forces, this paper traces girls' perspectives and experiences with small arms and the implications of their involvement in armed conflict. It highlights the multi-faceted world that girls were forced to contend with - one in which the realities of victimization, perpetration, and resistance were experienced in a shifting and dialectical fashion.

Topics: Age, Youth, Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Girls, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Peacebuilding, Weapons /Arms Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2005

The Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration of Child Soldiers: Social and Psychological Transformation in Sierra Leone

Citation:

Williamson, John. 2006. “The Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration of Child Soldiers: Social and Psychological Transformation in Sierra Leone.” Intervention, The International Journal of Mental Health, Psychosocial Work and Counselling in Areas of Armed Conflict 4 (3): 185-205.

Author: John Williamson

Abstract:

This article gives an overview of the processes of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of child soldiers in Sierra Leone. In contrast to many other situations, in Sierra Leone there has been an effective, integrated response involving a large number of civil society organizations and committees as well as the government. Nine areas of intervention were identified as having contributed to successful family and community reintegration: community sensitization, formal disarmament and demobilization, a period of transition in an Interim Care Centre, tracing and family mediation, family reunification, traditional cleansing and healing ceremonies and religious support, school or skills training, ongoing access to health care for those in school or training, and individual supportive counselling, facilitation and encouragement. Most children who have been demobilized appear to be doing as well as other children in their community.

Keywords: child soldiers, Sierra Leone, reintegration

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

Year: 2006

Child Soldiers: What About the Girls?

Citation:

Mazurana, Dyan, and Susan McKay. 2001. “Child Soldiers: What About the Girls?.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 57 (5): 30–35.

Authors: Dyan Mazurana, Susan McKay

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

Year: 2001

Girls with Guns: Narrating the Experience of War of Frelimo’s ‘Female Detachment'

Citation:

West, Harry G. 2000. “Girls with Guns: Narrating the Experience of War of Frelimo’s ‘Female Detachment.’” Anthropological Quarterly 73 (4): 180-94.

Author: Harry G. West

Abstract:

This article examines the way in which female guerrillas both appropriated and contributed to the FRELIMO narrative of women's participation in the struggle for Mozambican liberation. The author argues that ideological commitment to the cause was essential to defining the experience of violence for these girls and young women and that, concurrent with their convictions, they felt empowered rather than victimized by the war. The article contributes to an emerging literature suggesting that the culturally-specific meanings given to the social category of youth as well as to experiences of violence are essential to understanding the impact upon Africa's youth of the continent's many armed conflicts.

Keywords: child soldiers, violence, guerrilla war, women's emancipation, ideology, narrative

Topics: Age, Youth, Armed Conflict, National Liberation Wars, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, Gender, Girls, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Mozambique

Year: 2000

High Hopes, Grim Reality: Reintegration and the Education of Former Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone

Citation:

Betancourt, Theresa S., Stephanie Simmons, Ivelina Borisova, Stephanie E. Brewer, Uzo Iweala, and Marie de la Soudière. 2008. “High Hopes, Grim Reality: Reintegration and the Education of Former Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone.” Comparative Education Review 52 (4): 565–87.

Authors: Theresa S. Betancourt, Stephanie Simmons, Ivelina Borisova, Stephanie E. Brewer, Uzo Iweala, Marie de la Soudière

Topics: Combatants, Child Soldiers, DDR, Gender, Girls, Boys Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Sierra Leone

Year: 2008

Girls in Fighting Forces and Groups: Their Recruitment, Participation, Demobilization, and Reintegration

Citation:

Mazurana, Dyan E., Susan A. McKay, Khristopher C. Carlson, and Janel C. Kasper. 2002. “Girls in Fighting Forces and Groups: Their Recruitment, Participation, Demobilization, and Reintegration.” Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology 8 (2): 97–123.

Authors: Dyan E. Mazurana, Susan A. McKay, Khristopher C. Carlson, Janel C. Kasper

Abstract:

The question "Where are the girls?" is seldom raised in discussions about children or adolescents who are members of fighting forces and groups. This is due in large part to the near exclusive focus on boy soldiers. Consequently, scant attention has been given to girls' active involvement and distinct experiences in these forces and groups, whether as combatants or noncombatants. The purpose of this article is to explicate the presence and experiences of girls in fighting forces and groups and some of the challenges they face after they leave these forces and groups and attempt to resume their lives within their communities. We use descriptive data gathered from a wide variety of organizational and scholarly reports to identify girls' involvement and roles in these forces and groups, detail how they are recruited and demobilized, and examine common physical and psychosocial effects of their participation. We contend that during and after armed conflicts, gender-specific physical and psychological impacts must be understood so that both boys and girls receive effective help. Because little is presently known about girls' distinct experiences, programs and policies that might assist them to heal and recover more rapidly from physical and psychological trauma are seldom developed. By being knowledgable about and sensitive to girls' distinct experiences and needs, psychologists can help assure that girls, along with boys, receive more effective psychosocial assistance.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Girls, Military Forces & Armed Groups

Year: 2002

From Child Soldier to Ex-Fighter, a Political Journey: Female Fighters, Demobililisation, and Reintegration in Ethiopia

Citation:

Veale, Angela. 2003. “From Child Soldier to Ex-Fighter, a Political Journey: Female Fighters, Demobililisation, and Reintegration in Ethiopia.” Institute for Security Studies Monographs 85: 1-64.

Author: Angela Veale

Topics: Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Women, Girls, Gender Analysis Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Ethiopia

Year: 2003

Child Soldiers: Reintegration, Pathways to Recovery, and Reflections from the Field

Citation:

Betancourt, Theresa S. 2008. “Child Soldiers: Reintegration, Pathways to Recovery, and Reflections from the Field.” Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics 29 (2): 138–41.

Author: Theresa S. Betancourt

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, DDR, Post-Conflict

Year: 2008

Girl Soldiers: Denial of Rights and Responsibilities

Citation:

Brett, Rachel. 2004. “Girl Soldiers: Denial of Rights and Responsibilities.” Refugee Survival Quarterly 23 (2): 30-7.

Author: Rachel Brett

Abstract:

The article focuses on the participation of girls in conflict and its implications for their demobilisation and reintegration. Girl soldiers fail to go through the demobilisation processes partly because they are not recognised as soldiers but as abductees, sex slaves and concubines. Some girls experience a measure of protection and fulfillment in the military life, but many still find themselves being required to provide sexual services. It suggests designing demobilisation and reintegration programmes that do not exclude girl soldiers.

Topics: Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, DDR, Gender, Girls, Rights

Year: 2004

'Like Going to a Fiesta’ - the Role of Female Fighters in Colombia’s FARC

Citation:

Herrera, Natalie, and Douglas Porch. 2008. “'Like Going to a Fiesta’ - The Role of Female Fighters in Colombia’s FARC.” Small Wars & Insurgencies 19 (4): 609-34.

Authors: Natalie Herrera, Douglas Porch

Abstract:

Traditionally women and children have been seen as victims rather than protagonists in conflict. However, since the 1970s, women and children have assumed an active role as combatants in Colombian insurgencies. This is especially true of the FARC-EP, which integrates women into its political and military structure in ways that give them a sense of participation, accomplishment and satisfaction. Without their contributions, including sexual services, the FARC could probably not survive. However, despite their favourable experiences, many women ultimately become disillusioned with the FARC's masculine culture and value system that fails to accommodate their aspirations as women.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Girls, Boys, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Political Participation, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2008

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