ArticlePDF Available

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

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

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 psychosocial trauma are seldom developed. By being knowledgeable about and sensitive to girls' distinct experiences and needs, psychologists can help assure that girls, along with boys, receive more effective psychosocial assistance.
Content may be subject to copyright.
A preview of the PDF is not available
... Moreover, women face new vulnerabilities in these organizations, from disproportionately engaging in self-destructive acts, 192 facing sexual violence, to being marginalized for being "unfit" to fight, and being excluded from post-conflict disarmament demobilization, and reintegration programs. 193 These further the oppression, social isolation, and destabilization of conflict communities while inhibiting the success of reconciliation efforts. 194 In other words, deprivation of women's rights constitutes a security issue for which the communities pay collective costs. ...
Article
Full-text available
How do women insurgents affect rebel organizations' structure and survivability? Scholars acknowledge the importance of organization-level dynamics and unit composition for conflict outcomes. However, our understanding of how gender-diverse cadres impact rebel survivability remains limited. I examine the mechanisms through which women sustain the armed conflict. I analyze micro-organizational dynamics of rebellion through a qualitative case study of the Kurdish armed movement in Turkey between 1982-2015, based on the official archives of the Kurdistan Workers' Party. I show that women insurgents enable tactical diversity, aid the organization's coup-proofing strategy against factions, and mobilize domestic and international audiences. Women contribute most to their organization during crises and due to exploitation of gender inequalities. Analyzing the relationship between gender dynamics, group structure, and evolving rebel strategies, this study shows that the gender of the membership is an important factor influencing rebel survivability.
... 429 Girls, in particular, are often overlooked. 430 Children, however, can reintegrate successfully if offered the requisite support. 431 In Northern Uganda, children formerly in the LRA were just as likely to be employed as those not involved in the conflict. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Recent questions surrounding the repatriation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of those who traveled to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the reintegration of violent extremists in conflict zones including Somalia, Nigeria, Libya, and Mali, and the impending release of scores of homegrown violent extremists from prisons in the United States and Europe have heightened policymaker and practitioner interest in violent extremist disengagement and reintegration (VEDR). Although a number of programs to reintegrate violent extremists have emerged both within and outside of conflict zones, significant questions remain regarding their design, implementation, and effectiveness. To advance our understanding of VEDR, this report draws insights from a review of the literature on ex-combatant disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR). The literature on DDR typically adopts a “whole of society” approach, which helps us to understand how systemic factors may influence VEDR at the individual level and outcomes at the societal level. Despite the important differences that will be reviewed, the international community’s thirty-year experience with DDR—which includes working with violent extremists—offers important insights for our understanding of VEDR.
Chapter
Individuals can assume—and be assigned—multiple roles throughout a conflict: perpetrators can be victims, and vice versa; heroes can be reassessed as complicit and compromised. However, accepting this more accurate representation of the narrativized identities of violence presents a conundrum for accountability and justice mechanisms premised on clear roles. This book considers these complex, sometimes overlapping roles, as people respond to mass violence in various contexts, from international tribunals to NGO-based social movements. Bringing the literature on perpetration in conversation with the more recent field of victim studies, it suggests a new, more effective, and reflexive approach to engagement in post-conflict contexts. Long-term positive peace requires understanding the narrative dynamics within and between groups, demonstrating that the blurring of victim-perpetrator boundaries, and acknowledging their overlapping roles, is a crucial part of peacebuilding processes. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
Article
Full-text available
Between 1974 to 1991 the Tigray women played a remarkable role in the country’s history. Realizing the unfair gender relations and its implication for socio-economic and political development they joined the armed struggle which led to the inclusion of women in national/regional politics. Subsequently, a normative question of gender norms was clearly defined; political and other public positions that disregarded women slowly diminished.There are still positive questions raised due to the mis-implementation of laws and policies, but Tigray women hoped that the gap can be narrowed as democracy progresses, and when they are able to elect their representatives. While expecting more in the six-round national and regional election of Ethiopia, which was supposed to be in April 2020, the Tigray women had been told due to COVID-19 the sixth-round election has been postponed/canceled for an unlimited period.Tigray women challenged this action, firstly; the decision was without public participation, and secondly; the time when COVID-19 will become harmless was unknown. An informant articulated the danger of the current Ethiopian government; omissions threatened to breach or breached the constitutional order. Consequently, Tigray women resisted the decision saying, “Tigray will vote” following the regional laws as the constitution grants.This paper presents why Tigray women were in favor of having an election unlike a decision made at the federal, which was explained using the warm glow theory. To conduct this study primary and secondary data were collected using snowball sampling that was analyzed by applying qualitative (thematic) analysis. The findings revealed that Tigray women preferred to have an election than canceling, as they deemed it help them to maximize their expected utility and granted them with warm glow pay-off.
Article
Background During the civil war in northern Uganda (1986–2006), thousands of girls were abducted into rebel and government forces. Most of the females who were not abducted lived in abhorrent conditions in camps for internally displaced people (IDP). As the war was drawing to a close, reintegration programs emerged and some continue today. Objective Using a feminist lens, we conducted a scoping review to examine the literature written about these girls and young women. The impetus for this research was to determine the breadth of literature available; compare how this population is represented in the academic, practitioner and popular literature and to analyse how this representation may be impacting reintegration programming. Methods Key words were entered into 14 academic databases, search engines and practitioner websites. Articles were included if they covered the recruitment, retention, return, and/or reintegration of formerly abducted and/or war-affected girls and women and if they were published between 2005 and 2019. A total of 112 articles were categorized and coded according to topics, themes and theoretical approaches. Results Based on the findings of this scoping review, it appears that many articles describe formerly abducted and war-affected young women from a deficit-based perspective, while relatively fewer articles are written with a strength-based, resiliency-focused lens. Conclusion Based on our analysis, we argue for a more nuanced representation of women formerly engaged with armed groups, and argue for a gendered, inclusive approach to reintegration programming.
Article
This article focuses on China Keitetsi’s memoir La petite fille à la Kalachnikov (2004) in which she describes her early childhood in Uganda as well as her experiences as a female child soldier in the Ugandan National Resistance Army (NRA) under Yoweri Museveni from 1985 to 1995. First, I briefly explore the intended objectives of her text as a crucial therapeutic step and a political act. Second, I examine her narration of her early childhood in which she evokes Ugandan women’s lack of social and economic power and denounces the intimate and sexual violence that girls and women experience. Lastly, I study how her narration of her experiences as a female child soldier provides invaluable insight into the complex experiences of female child soldiers, by showing not only the empowerment they feel as soldiers but also the sexual violence they experience as females and its effects on their psyche. Through my analysis, I demonstrate how Keitetsi not only exposes the trauma she experienced but also condemns the socio-cultural and political structures that victimised her as a girl and later as a female child soldier. Keitetsi’s memoir generates important reflections on gender and power.
Book
Full-text available
Este libro es resultado de dos investigaciones sobre jóvenes y violencias, realizadas en la Universidad Autónoma de Occidente (Cali)1 con el nombre: “Juventud, violencia y paz en cuatro poblaciones del suroccidente colombiano”, cuyo objetivo fue: comprender la incidencia que tienen algunas formas de violencia social y el conflicto armado en la construcción de identidad y sentido de realidad de jóvenes del suroccidente colombiano, y a partir de ahí elaborar una propuesta de fortalecimiento de identidades juveniles responsables y edificadoras de cultura para la paz. La segunda investigación fue realizada por la Universidad de Medellín2 con el nombre: “Juventud, violencia y paz. El caso Medellín”, cuyo objetivo fue analizar los significados de violencia y su incidencia en las prácticas cotidianas y las diversas expresiones de resistencias generadas frente a la misma en jóvenes de Medellín. En este libro se presentan los resultados de las dos investigaciones y el análisis que de manera conjunta realizaron los investigadores, para lo cual en los contenidos de los capítulos en algunos apartes se hace alusión a ambos escenarios, bien sea desde un criterio comparativo, o aludiendo a las condiciones particulares que en un escenario u otro tuvieron que ver con la experiencia investigativa con la población de jóvenes.
Chapter
Full-text available
El presente capítulo busca reflexionar en torno a los retos y alcances de pensar la prosocialidad como categoría generativa de articulación de la investigación en ciencias sociales y la intervención psicosocial en población de niños, niñas y adolescentes desvinculados de grupos armados ilegales, para las políticas de reintegración, reconciliación y construcción de paz en tiempos de pos-acuerdo. El punto de partida es el reconocimiento de que todo proceso de restauración psicosocial a niños, niñas y adolescentes desvinculados de grupos armados ilegales invita a la necesidad de superar posturas deficitarias basadas en la psicopatologización y la adaptación del otro a lógicas sociales hegemónicas e institucionales que, sin negarlas, requiere de la construcción de lecturas generativas basadas en el potencial humano. En este sentido, se parte de la defensa de un potencial prosocial posible de ser amplificado, mediante estrategias psicosociales y pedagógicas estructuradas en escenarios sociales protectores, encaminados al lazo social y al desarrollo de conductas sociales positivas.
Article
Full-text available
Given that the natural birth ratio is 106 males to 100 females, and that females tend to have longer life expectancies, it is shocking to learn that "more than 100 million girls and women are missing" (Sen, 1990, p. 61). Birth ratios of males and females would predict that there should be more women living today, particularly in Asia (Bunch, 1995). But in some parts of the world, men outnumber women by 20:1 (United Nations, 1996). To comprehend this staggering problem, 100 million "missing" women is equivalent to the total number of war-related deaths of 100 Pol Pot–initiated famines and massacres in Cambodia (1975 to 1978), 200 of the genocidal civil wars recently witnessed in Rwanda (1994 to 1995), and 2.5 times the deaths of World War II (1939 to 1945) (Sivard, 1996). But how many have even noticed, let alone demanded accountability for, this killing of girls and women? A primary reason for this disregard is that much of the violence 1 The authors would like to thank the editors, two anonymous reviewers, and Daniel J. Isaak for thorough reviews of this manuscript.
Article
A Different Kind of War Story takes us to the frontlines of one of the most brutal wars in recent history. The setting is Mozambique during the fifteen-year war of terror that took a million lives-mostly civilian-and completely destroyed homes, crops, hospitals, schools, and even access to water. The characters are the soldiers who fought it, the thieves and opportunists who profited from it, and the ordinary people whose lives were shattered by it and from whose ranks emerged the heroes and healers who created peace. Combining contemporary theory and innovative methodology, Nordstrom explores the nature and culture of terror warfare and raises thought-provoking questions about state power, civilian resistance, and the politics of identity. She compares the conflict in Mozambique with similar conflicts and offers a new way of looking at political violence, showing that just as violence is learned, it can be unlearned.