Girl soldiers face tougher battle on return to civilian life | Global development | guardian.co.uk
Girl soldiers are often thought of only as “sex slaves”, a term that glosses over the complex roles many play within armed groups and in some national armies. This thinking contributes to their subsequent invisibility in the demobilisation processes. In fact, girls are frequently the most challenging child soldiers to rehabilitate.
About 40% of the hundreds of thousands of child soldiers scattered across the world’s conflicts today are thought to be girls, but the numbers of girls enrolling in child soldier DDR programmes dwindles to 5% or less.
Girls often conceal their association with armed groups, Richard Clarke, director of Child Soldiers International, told IRIN. In traditional societies, enrolling in DDR could confirm a past that imperils their future. “In contexts of entrenched gender discrimination, and in situations where a girl’s ’value’ is defined in terms of her purity and marriageability, the stigma attached to involvement in sexual activity, whether real or imputed, can result in exclusion and acute impoverishment,” he said.