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Reaching the girls (in the DRC)

Reaching the Girls, a Save the Children report, focuses primarily on disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), examining why girl soldiers aren’t reached by efforts to release child soldiers and reintegrate them back into society. During one 10-month period, for instance, 1718 boys were demobilized compared to only 23 girls. This disparity has been consistent over a number of years despite the fact that girls are recruited/abducted as extensively as boys. One reason for this situation is armed groups’ unwillingness to release girl soldiers, seeing them as possessions and claiming that they are “wives” rather than child soldiers. Negative judgments about girls associated with armed groups are also a chief obstacle to their reintegration into their communities. This study not only analyses the situation of girl soldiers in the DRC, but also makes recommendations for how to ameliorate it through practical actions. Read full report.

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Female child soldiers are victims of abuse and perpetrators of violence

Katz provides a brief, but comprehensive overview of the complex experience of girl soldiers by: 1) debunking the myth that girls are solely recruited — often through abduction –to serve as domestic labor and sexual slaves noting that FARC in Colombia and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda, among others, actively recruit and train girls to engage in combat operations; 2) highlighting the value of girl soldiers, noting that commanders perceive them as easily manipulated and obedient ensuring a “constant pool of forced and compliant labor;” and 3) discussing the stigmatization and rejection of ex-girl soldiers when they try to reintegrate into society. Read full article.

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Girls in militaries, paramilitaries, and armed opposition groups

This report answers the question “Where are the girls?” in the context of child soldiers. Recognizing that “scant attention has been given to girls in armed forces and armed opposition groups, their distinct experiences, the impacts, and gender-specific human rights violations” McKay and Mazurana do an excellent job of filling the glaring knowledge gap concerning girl soldiers. Their comprehensive database on the recruitment, use, and roles of girls from 1990-2000 provides critical material to improve our understanding of the multiple issues facing girl soldiers and assist policy makers and other concerned parties to improve efforts to address them. Read full report.

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September Newsletter: Girl soldiers–Invisible enablers for armed opposition groups

Cambodia-Child Soldiers

What comes to mind when you think of child soldiers? Little boys with big guns? Young men armed with Kalashnikovs swaggering with bravado? These ubiquitous images blind us to the existence of girl soldiers. While exact numbers of female child soldiers are hard to come by due to underreporting, it is estimated that girls con-stitute 40% of child soldiers. Yes, you read that correctly: Forty percent.

Clearly, the days of sugar and spice are long gone. GC360 encourages you to take a look at this month’s suggested readings to understand who’s really fighting the fight. Learn what girl soldiers do, why they do it, and how armed opposition groups lever-age them to achieve their strategic objectives. And find out what happens to them when the fighting is over. There is no storybook ending.

Read the September Newsletter | Click Here to Subscribe

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The complex life of female child soldiers

Brigit Katz provides a brief, but comprehensive overview of the complex experience of girl soldiers by: 1) debunking the myth that girls are solely recruited — often through abduction –to serve as domestic labor and sexual slaves noting that FARC in Colombia and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda, among others, actively recruit and train girls to engage in combat operations; 2) highlighting the value of girl soldiers, noting that commanders perceive them as easily manipulated and obedient ensuring a “constant pool of forced and compliant labor;” and 3) discussing the stigmatization and rejection of ex-girl soldiers when they try to reintegrate into society. Read full article.

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