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Examples of the Use and Abuse of Girl Child Soldiers

Examples of the Use and Abuse of Girl Child SoldiersIn Africa, it estimated that half the ranks of progovernment paramilitaries and rebel soldiers are recruited, or abducted, child soldiers, of which approximately half of which are girls, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (IRC), at the Second International Policy Conference on the African Child: Violence Against Girls in Africa (2006).   In Uganda, for example, tens of thousands of children have been abducted from their villages during the night for induction into rebel guerrilla armies, such as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRC). The IRC documents that more than 30,000 children have been forced into slavery as child soldiers during decades-long civil leaving some 80 percent of the population displaced.  Displacement leaves girls at risk for routine raping, abuse, or forced to be a sex slaves to rebel commanders or troops.  Despite the official end of the 1998–2003 civil wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) conflict and displacement internally and into neighboring countries have continued to allow the abuse and abduction of girls as child soldiers and sex slaves to continue to fester, as some 30,000 children have been in active combat and thousands of girls, as 12,500, are forced to forces in support and sexual roles (Save the Children: Forgotten Casualties of War: Girls in Armed Conflict). Sudan’s Darfur region had approximately 17,000 children served in the forces of the government, armed militias, and opposition groups; some 2,500 to 5,000 child soldiers served in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) alone despite the fact that the insurgent group claimed to have demobilized 16,000 child fighters, including an estimated 600 girls, between 2001 and 2004.  In Liberia during the civil war between 1989 and 1997, an estimated 21,000 children were part of armed groups, and some 5,000 girls were actively fighting in the war. Conflict resumed in 2000, and by the end of 2003, the number of girl soldiers had increased to 8,500 as violence raged in neighboring countries, despite a peace agreement in August 2003, according to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers.

Examples of the Use and Abuse of Girl Child Soldiers

Female Child Soldiers for the Tamil Tigers

The situation is also critical for girl soldiers across Asia. In South and Southeast Asia, girls joined armed groups often to flee a life of domestic servitude, forced marriage, and other forms of gender-based abuse.  In Sri Lanka, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) separatist insurgency has had, some 43 percent or 21,500 of the 51,000 child soldiers involved in the conflict are girls, according to Forgotten Casualties of War: Girls in Armed Conflict. Over the last decade in the Philippines, girls are often used to recruit as soldiers in the various guerrilla insurgencies have been active for decades in the country. As well girls have been forced into marriages with combatants in the conflicts in Afghanistan. The Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA) forcibly recruited some 2,000–4,000 children between 1996 and 2004 via abducting them from schools and subjecting them to political indoctrination, arms training, and then deployed in combat zones or used in other support roles; a number of which were girl who in many cases reported sexual abuse according to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers.

Examples of the Use and Abuse of Girl Child Soldiers

Female Child Soldier in Columbia

Guerrilla and paramilitary groups in Central and Latin America have used child soldiers, including girls, primarily from peasant and indigenous groups by force or coercion since the 1960s. In the 1980s and 1990s in Peru the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) guerrilla group had a rate of girls in the ranks, some forcibly recruited; and the various guerrilla and revolutionary groups in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua included girl soldiers. As many of these conflicts end girls child soldiers have been lured into youth gangs, many of which have sought to escape poverty, conflict, and/or reprisals by state security forces and paramilitaries.  Such as in Colombia, were approximately 14,000 child soldiers recruited by paramilitary and armed opposition groups, such as FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, or National Liberation Army) which had up to 50 percent of all recruits being women and girls. In 2001 a United Nations official condemned the use of more than 2,500 girl soldiers, primarily in the FARC, and their rape and sexual abuse by commanders, many of which were often forced to use contraceptives and have abortions (Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers).

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Cassandra Clifford

Cassandra Clifford is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, which works to enhance and improve the services and opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery. She holds an M.A., International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, as well as a B.A., Marketing and A.S., Fashion Merchandise/Marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassandra has previously worked in both the corporate and charity sector for various industries and causes, including; Child Trafficking, Learning Disabilities, Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations and Fashion. Currently Cassandra is conducting independent research on the use of rape as a weapon of war, as well as America’s Pimp Culture and its Impact on Modern Slavery. In addition to her many purists Cassandra is also working to develop a series of children’s books.

Cassandra currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where she also writes for the Examiner, as the DC Human Rights Examiner, and serves as an active leadership member of DC Stop Modern Slavery.

Areas of Focus:
Children's Rights; Human Rights; Conflict