By Holly Rice
There is a long history of female involvement in fighting forces throughout Africa, yet many more traditional representations of child soldiers have rarely considered how gender might affect experiences of children in conflict. Although the Cape Town Principles define the ‘child soldier’ as not simply children who bear arms but also ‘girls recruited for sexual purposes and for forced marriage’, many scholars and policy makers have portrayed the issue of child soldiering as a ‘uniquely male phenomenon’ which has often rendered girls in fighting forces invisible as Myriam Denov argues. For example, Egodi Uchendu contends that girls were not present in the Biafran Organisation of Freedom Fighters during the Nigerian Civil War because of ‘the Igbo view of men as the protectors of women’ yet, as will be discussed below, Talent Chioma Mundy-Castle’s memoir confirms the presence of girls in this particular armed group. The assumption that child soldiering has been a male phenomenon has been challenged recently particularly in the fields of gender studies and public health. The work of Susan Mckay and Dyan Mazurana has been particularly important; their book ‘Where are the girls?’ highlights how little attention has been given to girls’ involvement in fighting forces aside from their roles as ‘wives’ and ‘sexual slaves’. Their research shows that in reality girls have played a variety of roles within armed groups often simultaneously and have therefore been both victims and perpetrators of violence. This argument has been confirmed by statistics which reveal that girls have comprised an estimated thirty per cent of all child soldiers in recent African conflicts. The confirmation that girls are a significant part of armed groups leads to the debate surrounding how their experiences differ from that of boy soldiers and the significance of gender in explaining these differences, which are the issues this essay will examine. If one is to fully address these issues, it is important to remember that ‘girls’ are not a monolithic entity; their experiences are shaped by factors such as age, ethnicity and religion as well as the nature of the conflict they are involved in and the society from which they come. This essay will address how their experiences’ have differed from boys in order to explore wider debates surrounding how gender affects the experiences of child soldiers. It will argue that girls’ and boys’ experiences of conflict have often been more similar than many western perspectives have traditionally depicted them to be. However, girls have been fundamentally affected by underlying gender inequalities which are often exacerbated in warzones. This essay will therefore demonstrate girls’ agency and resilience but will also argue that they suffer more victimisation and abuse than boys during conflict.
A clear difference between girls’ and boys’ experiences lies in the way they have been perceived and depicted in the west. In academic literature, girls in conflict zones were largely invisible until recently. This invisibility can be explained by the fact that many girls’ voices have not been recorded. For example, in her research on girls in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, Emily Bridger notes that previous studies of youth involvement in the struggle, by Jeremy Seekings for example, were based solely on interviews with male comrades and therefore he concluded that only boys were involved. Moreover, western humanitarian discourses have often rendered girls’ invisible. The media has become saturated with images of pre-pubescent ‘African’ boys struggling to carry AK-47s whilst girls’ involvement in combat has been largely overlooked. Erica Burman argues that western depictions of childhood are extremely gendered as girls represent ‘the quintessential child victims’ and their femininity and childish dependency have been used ‘to evoke sympathy’, highlighting how notions of masculinity and femininity shape the way children are depicted. Representations of girls in conflict are also shaped by traditional western understandings of war as a masculine space, as masculinity has often been associated with violence, whilst femininity has been associated with peace. Where the presence of girls in conflict has been acknowledged, narratives surrounding their involvement have tended to focus on victimisation, depicting them as the passive victims of abduction and sexual violence. For example, although men and boys have begun to be recognised as victims of sexual abuse during conflict, Chris Dolan recognises that humanitarian discourses still tend to equate ‘gender-based violence’ with ‘violence against women’. This focus on female victimhood against male aggression adheres to western notions of warfare as a masculine space. Such depictions have presented an over-generalised and one-dimensional account of events. In order to fully understand the experiences of girls in conflict, it is necessary to move beyond these rather homogenised and simplified narratives.
The victim narrative which western discourses have perpetuated can be challenged when one considers the voices of girls themselves. Girl soldier memoirs in particular can be of great use to the historian as they shed light on experiences that might have been previously overlooked in humanitarian and policy discourses. This is particularly evident when one considers how girls were recruited into certain armed groups. Research surrounding the recruitment of girls into fighting forces suggests that the reality is much more complex than a narrative of passivity and victimisation, with many girls making active decisions to join armed groups under their own motivations just as boys have. Some girls have actively joined armed groups as a survival strategy and a way to escape the abuse which dominated their pre-conflict lives. As she prepares to join the Biafran Organisation of Freedom Fighters (Buffs), Talent Chioma Mundy-Castle describes how ‘a bullet was much more preferable than the constant pain our lives had been up to this point’ which suggests how, for her and others, joining an armed group was a more desirable alternative to the abuse they had faced before the conflict. She also describes how joining the armed group allowed her and others ‘to find a reason for our existence’ which perhaps alludes to how, in her opinion, war would prove to be a space of empowerment and therefore a way to escape and challenge existing inequalities and abuse. Mundy-Castle’s memoir of the Biafran War challenges assumptions that all girls are the victims of abduction and forcible recruitment and therefore affords girls the agency which western depictions often deny them. A difference which might be found is the motivations driving boys’ and girls’ voluntary recruitment. Rachel Brett argues that existing gender inequalities have acted as a significant driving force behind the recruitment of girls as many join an armed group in order to escape the sexual abuse they might endure as civilians during conflict.
However, the fact that girls have been abducted and forcibly recruited into various armed groups should not be overlooked nor should the fact that boys have also been forcibly recruited. This reminds one that methods of recruitment which shape girls’ and boys’ experiences are shaped by varied factors which particularly depend on the conflict they were involved in. Recruitment into armed groups such as the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda was characterised predominantly by abduction and coercion. Girls have therefore been victims of war in the way they are abducted from their communities, effectively summarised by Grace Akallo who describes her abduction by the LRA: ‘led like slaves, we were taken towards a life of torment. We left our independence behind’. This quote highlights the passivity which has characterised the abduction of girls by the LRA. Similarly, girls’ recruitment into the RUF during the Civil War in Sierra Leone was almost entirely characterised by abduction, as it is estimated that 9,500 out of 10,000 girls and women associated with the RUF were recruited forcibly. Yet it is important to remember that abduction was not simply a way for armed groups to recruit girls but it has also been used to recruit boys. Both the LRA and the RUF have used abduction and forced recruitment as a way to recruit boys into their ranks. This highlights the similarities between the recruitment of boys and girls into armed groups; their experiences cannot simply be characterised as ‘voluntary’ or ‘forced’ but instead should be understood as a complex combination of both types of recruitment.
The similarities between the experiences of girls and boys do not end here. Rather than simply being victims, girls have taken up arms and become perpetrators of violence like their male counterparts. The gun has been identified by Denov and MacLure as a ‘recourse from utter powerlessness and victimisation’ which suggests how engaging in combat was used as a means of survival and perhaps a means of empowerment against the cultures of violence which often characterised girls’ pre-conflict and conflict experiences. The idea that girls would carry a gun as a source of power also suggests that they were not simply victims but instead were active agents in armed conflict, using the gun to defend themselves just as boys would. By taking up arms, therefore, girls not only assumed symbolic power but also gained the ability to prevent further victimisation and abuse.
The notion of warfare as a potential space of empowerment is an interesting theme as evidence suggests that in some cases conflict spaces have provided girls with the opportunity to challenge the subordinate status of femininity in many societies. This notion is discussed by Emily Bridger in relation to the young women and girls involved in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Bridger argues that by engaging in conflict, girls were able to defy gender norms through in violence. She notes that girls also rejected traditional notions of femininity by appropriating masculine behaviours and dress in order to become a ‘comrade’. The way girls used conflict zones to challenge existing gender roles and stereotypes did not just occur in South Africa but can also be seen in other conflicts throughout Africa. For example, the way some girls used conflict as a way to assert their equality to boys is evident in Senait Mehari’s memoir of her life in the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF). Mehari describes one girl, Mihret, who ‘appeared more like a boy than a girl- which was the impression she sought to give’. Mihret used her role as fighter as an opportunity to erase her femininity, for example Mehari describes how ‘she kept her hair short and wore a big T-shirt that hid her full breasts’. The description of Mihret therefore suggests how in the ELF, girls were able to challenge traditional notions of femininity and therefore for many the conflict provided them with the opportunity to assert their equality to boy soldiers. This notion of female empowerment was not just present in the ELF, but was also evident in the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF). Their slogan ‘no liberation without women’s participation’ effectively represents the egalitarian and emancipatory nature of the group and also suggests how an armed group’s ideology can affect the experiences of girls. This evidence has shown, therefore, how in certain armed groups girls have been able to use their identities as soldiers to challenge and defy gender norms and thus their experiences cannot be generalised as experiences of victimisation. Thus, just as boy soldiers have used warfare as a way to challenge generational hierarchies, many girls used war as a way to challenge gendered hierarchies, creating an opportunity for empowerment.
However, it is clear that despite their many attempts, girls have never been able to fully erase their femininity. This idea is summarised by Mehari who states that Mihret’s attempts to appear as a boy were ‘shattered as soon as she opened her mouth to speak’, revealing a high-pitched feminine voice that ‘no one could take seriously’. Despite girls’ attempts to use conflict as a way to assert their equality to men, warfare has often exacerbated existing gender inequalities through the way armed groups have utilised forced marriage and sexual violence as tactics of war. It is important to remember that not all girls’ experiences of conflict have been shaped by forced marriage, but as Stacey Hynd argues, the use of the tactic appears to be more prevalent in societies ‘where cultural norms support or allow early marriage’, suggesting that some conflicts have exacerbated existing gender inequalities. Many feminist scholars have argued that the militaristic culture of armed groups legitimates violence as a way of establishing and maintaining power over a certain group. Therefore, the use of sexual violence can be understood as a way for male militants to assert their control not just over girls and women but also over communities. Denov argues that because armed conflict exacerbates existing gender inequalities through the use of sexual violence, girls have experienced conflict differently to boys as they have been ‘the most insecure, disadvantaged and marginalised’. Conflict has therefore often made girls more vulnerable than boys because of the threat of sexual violence and has had severe physical and psychological effects. For example, China Keitetsi effectively describes the dehumanising nature of sexual violence within Museveni’s National Resistance Army in her memoir as she writes ‘it felt as if I was sleeping with death’ and the desperation many girls exhibit when they are forced into marriage is effectively summarised by Grace Akallo who describes how she attempted to commit suicide three times in order to escape the horrors of her reality.Although sexual violence is also experienced by boys during conflict, it seems that girls have experienced abuse on a much greater scale, although the statistics of reported sexual violence have not reflected the entirety of the issue. It is important not to deny the limited form of ‘tactical agency’ that many girls have exhibited in these situations. For example, Mundy-Castle recalls how she, and other girls had equipment that would enable them to pretend that they were menstruating as ‘protection against sexual demands’. However, the use of forced marriage and sexual violence is a point of differentiation between girls’ and boys’ experiences as girls have been the most victimised by this tactic and have therefore arguably suffered the most. If the use of sexual violence in conflict is to be understood as an exacerbation of existing gender inequalities as Denov has argued, then it is likely to have affected girls more seriously as girls are the existing victims of gender inequality in pre-conflict societies.
The gendered inequalities which have been discussed thus far do not simply disappear when girls leave an armed group. Girls’ post-conflict experiences have been predominantly characterised by marginalisation and stigmatisation, effectively summarised by one former female LRA abductee, Agnes Acayo, who stated in an interview that ‘it is difficult to cope with life. We [ex-combatants] are marginalised and abandoned. I keep thinking whether I should go back to the bush or just commit suicide’. On leaving an armed group, girls have often faced the additional difficulty of having to reintegrate into society as new mothers and are therefore left with a living physical reminder of their involvement in conflict and for this reason have often faced greater difficulties than former boy soldiers. Despite the apparent need to help former girl soldiers, it seems that they have been rendered invisible in many Disarmament, Demobilisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR) programmes. On a practical level, many girls have not been included in DDRR programmes because of the way many programmes require an individual to give up their gun in order to access the programme and therefore assume that ‘child soldier’ is defined by bearing arms; meaning that some girls have been completely overlooked. Moreover, little attention has been paid to the gender-specific trauma girls face after their time in conflict as a result of forced marriage and sexual exploitation. Megan Mackenzie argues that significant attention was not paid to girls in post-conflict Sierra Leone owing to perceptions of masculinity as dominant and violent, which meant that the securitisation of men and boys was deemed more urgent than that of women and girls who were not perceived to be a security concern. From this evidence it is clear how traditional understandings of gender and conflict have shaped attempts at post-conflict reconstruction and therefore have often marginalised girls involved in the conflict. On returning to their communities, girls face greater difficulties owing to the gendered inequalities prevalent in many societies and cultures. Girls have faced stigmatisation and rejection by their communities, as Agnes Acayo highlights ‘when the community knows you are a former rebel fighter, people finger-point and look at you as a killer’. Although both boys and girls have experienced stigmatisation when they return to their communities, the reproach is heightened for girl soldiers owing to the stigma surrounding sexual violence in many cultures. Furthermore, girls have often struggled to re-build their lives owing to the lack of socio-economic opportunities for women in many societies and have not been able to generate an income for themselves and their children. Therefore, in terms of post-conflict reintegration, girls have often faced more difficulties than boys because of gendered inequalities and stigmatisation in their communities.
To conclude, it is clear from this essay that there is no single experience of girls in many African conflicts. Girls have constituted all parts of armed groups, from ‘wives’, cooks and porters to front line fighters, just as boys have also assumed multiple roles. Therefore, the terms ‘victims’ and ‘perpetrators’ cannot be exclusive to one specific gender. This essay has demonstrated how it is necessary to look past western depictions, which have often generalised girls’ experiences as that of passive victimisation, in order to explore the reality of their lives in conflict. Like boy soldiers, many girl soldiers have been active agents in the way they have joined armed groups and navigated conflict spaces. At the same time, girls have experienced forced recruitment, violence and abuse just as boy soldiers have. This essay has therefore demonstrated the similarities between boys’ and girls’ experiences of conflict when one looks past western generalisations. However, this essay fundamentally argues that girls have experienced more victimisation owing to pre-existing gender inequalities which have been exacerbated by conflicts, most visibly in the use of sexual violence by certain armed groups. Moreover, these gender inequalities have not ceased when the conflict is over, but have continued to shape girls’ post-conflict experiences. If girls are to fully reintegrate into their communities after a conflict, then policy makers must acknowledge the significant roles they played in conflicts and must produce DDRR programmes which are gender-sensitive and take into account the specific gendered trauma girls might experience as a result of conflict. This essay thus serves to affirm the significance of girls in many conflicts across Africa and therefore argues that these experiences should not be overlooked in attempts at rebuilding war-torn communities in the future.
Dr Emily Bridger’s PhD research explored the involvement of female students and youth in South Africa’s liberation struggle, focusing on a group of ‘female comrades’ from the township of Soweto during the 1980s and early 1990s. This group of activists had been excluded from previous histories; it was generally argued that girls were excluded from the liberation struggle during these years due to their burden of household labour, the escalation of violence, and male activists’ disparaging attitudes towards them. However, through oral history interviews with both male and female former comrades, Bridger has brought to light the untold story of African girls’ involvement in the liberation movement. This research is now being prepared as Bridger’s first monograph, titled South Africa’s Female Comrades. The book explores what life was like for African girls growing up under apartheid, why some chose to join the liberation struggle, the roles they played, and how they narrate and make sense of their former activism in post-apartheid South Africa. Primarily a work of oral history, South Africa’s Female Comrades is not only concerned with what young female activists did, but equally with how they reconstruct their pasts, relate their personal experiences to collective histories of the struggle, and insert themselves into a historical narrative from which they have traditionally been excluded.
Akallo, Grace & McDonnell, Faith, Girl soldier: a story of hope for Northern Uganda’s children (Ada, MI.:Chosen Books, 2007).
Keitetsi, China, Child soldier (London: Souvenir Press, 2004).
Mehari, Senait, Heart of fire: from child soldier to soul singer (London: Profile Books, 2006).
Mundy-Castle and Talent Chioma, A mother’s debt: the true story of an African orphan (Bloomington, IN:Author House, 2012).
Okiror, Samuel, ‘Abducted at nine to be a girl soldier for Kony: now people call me a killer’, The Guardian, 8 January, 2018, <https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/jan/08/abducted-girl-soldier-joseph-kony-lra-lords-resistance-army-uganda> [last accessed, 27 February, 2018].
UNICEF, ‘Cape Town principles and best practices on the prevention of recruitment of children into the armed forces and demobilisation and social reintegration of child soldiers in Africa’ (Cape Town, 1997).
Alfredson, Lisa, ‘Sexual exploitation of child soldiers: an exploration and analysis of global dimensions and trends’, Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers (2001).
Bah, Khadija Alia, ‘Rural women and girls in the war in Sierra Leone’, Conciliation Resources (1997). Baines, Erin, ‘Forced marriage as a political project: sexual rules and relations in the Lord’s Resistance Army’, Journal of Peace Research, 51 (2014), 405-417.
Bernal, Victoria, ‘Equality to die For? Women guerrilla fighters and Eritrea’s cultural revolution’, Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 23:2 (2000), 61-76.
Brett, Rachel, ‘Girl soldiers: challenging the assumptions’, Quaker United Nations Office (2002).
Bridger, Emily, ‘Soweto’s female comrades: gender, youth and violence in South Africa’s township uprisings, 1984-1990’, forthcoming with Journal of Southern African Studies (2018).
Burman, Erica, ‘Innocents abroad: Western fantasies of childhood and iconography of emergencies’, Disasters,18:3 (1994), 238-253.
Coulter, Chris, Mariam Persson and Matas Utas, Young female fighters in African wars: conflict and its consequences (Uppsala: Elanders Sverige, 2008).
Denov, Myriam and Richard MacLure, ‘Engaging the voices of girls in the aftermath of Sierra Leone’s conflict:experiences and perspectives in a culture of violence’, Anthropologica, 48:1 (2006), 73-85.
Denov, Myriam, ‘Girl soldiers and human rights: lessons from Angola, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Northern Uganda’, The International Journal of Human Rights, 12:5 (2008), 813-836.
Denov, Myriam, ‘Wartime sexual violence: assessing a human security response to war-affected girls in Sierra Leone’, Security Dialogue, 37:3 (2006), 319-342.
Dolan, Chris, ‘Into the mainstream: addressing sexual violence against men and boys in conflict’, A briefing paper prepared for the workshop held at the Overseas Development Institute (2014).38
Honwana, Alcinda, Child soldiers in Africa (Philadelphia, PA.: University of Pittsburgh, 2006).
Hynd, Stacey, “To be taken as a wife is a form of death”: the social, military and humanitarian dynamics of forced marriage and girl soldiers in African conflicts, c. 1980-2010’, in Forced Marriage in Contemporary and Historical Perspective, ed. by B. Lawrence, R. Roberts, and A. Bunting, (Athens, OH.: Ohio University Press, 2016), pp. 290-324.
Keairns, Yvone, ‘The voices of girl child soldiers’, Quaker United Nations Office (2002).
Kelly, Liz, ‘Wars against women: sexual violence, sexual politics and the militarised state’, in States of conflict: gender, violence and resistance, ed. by Susie M. Jacobs, Ruth Jacobson and Jen Marchbank (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000), pp. 45-65.
Mackenzie, Megan, Female soldiers in Sierra Leone: sex, security and post-conflict development (New York, NY., New York University Press, 2012).
McKay, Susan and Dyan Mazurana, Where are the girls? Girls in fighting forces in Northern Uganda, Sierra Leone and Mozambique: their lives during and after War (Montreal: International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, 2004).
McKay, Susan, ‘The effects of armed conflict on women and girls’, Peace and Conflict, 4:4 (1998), 381-392. McKay, Susan, Malia Robinson, Maria Gonsalves and Miranda Worthen, ‘Girls formerly associated with fighting forces and their children: returned and neglected’, Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers (2006). Moynagh, Maureen, ‘Human rights, child soldier narratives and the problem of form’, Research in African Literatures, 42:4 (2011), 39-59.
Nordstrom, Carolyn, ‘Visible wars and invisible girls: shadow industries and the politics of not-knowing’, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 1 (1999), 14-33.
Reed, Charlotte, ‘The reintegration of female child soldiers into society’, masters thesis, (Georgetown University, 2010).
Uchendu, Egodi, ‘Recollections of childhood experiences during the Nigerian Civil War’, Africa, 77:2 (2007), 393-417.
Worthen, Miranda, Grace Onyango, Mike Wessels, Angela Veale and Susan McKay, ‘Facilitating war-affected young mothers’ reintegration: lessons from a participatory action research study in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda’, International Journal of Social Science Studies, 1: (2013), 145-149.
 Yvonne Kearins, ‘The voices of girl child soldiers’, Quaker United Nations Office (2002), p. 1.
 UNICEF, ‘Cape Town principles and best practices on the prevention of recruitment of children into the armed forces and demobilisation and social reintegration of child soldiers in Africa’ (Cape Town, 1997), p. 12; Myriam Denov, ‘Girl soldiers and human rights: lessons from Angola, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Northern Uganda’, The International Journal of Human Rights, 12:5 (2008), 813-836 (p. 813).
 Egodi Uchendu, ‘Recollections of childhood experiences during the Nigerian Civil War’, Africa, 77: 2 (2007), 393-418 (p. 400); Talent Chioma and Mundy-Castle, A mother’s debt: the true story of an African orphan (Bloomington, IN.: Author House, 2012), p. 395.
Susan McKay, ‘The effects of armed conflict on women and girls’, Peace and Conflict, 4:4 (1998), 381-392 (p. 382).
Susan McKay & Dyan Mazurana, Where are the girls? Girls in fighting forces in Northern Uganda, Sierra Leone and Mozambique: their lives during and after war (Montreal: International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, 2004), p. 18.
Mckay & Mazurana, Where are the Girls?, 18.
Charlotte Reed, ‘The reintegration of female child soldiers into society’ (master’s thesis, Georgetown University, 2010), p. ii.
 Carolyn Nordstrom, ‘Visible wars and invisible girls: shadow industries and the politics of not-knowing’, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 1 (1999), 71-84 (p. 72).
 Emily Bridger, ‘Soweto’s female comrades: gender, youth and violence in South Africa’s township uprisings, 1984-1990’, Forthcoming in Journal of Southern African Studies, 44 (2018), 559-574 (pp. 559-574).
 Rachel Brett, ‘Girl soldiers: challenging the assumptions’, Quaker United Nations Office (2002), p. 1.
 Erica Burman, ‘Innocents abroad: Western fantasies of childhood and iconography of emergencies’, Disasters, 18:3 (1994), 238-253 (p. 242).
 Chris Coulter, Mariam Persson and Mats Utas, Young female fighters in African wars: conflict and its consequences (Uppsala: Elanders Sverige, 2008), p. 7.
 Brett, ‘Girl soldiers’, p. 1.
 Chris Dolan, ‘Into the mainstream: addressing sexual violence against men and boys in conflict’, A briefing paper prepared for the workshop held at the Overseas Development Institute (2014), p. 27.
 Maureen Moynagh, ‘Human rights, child soldier narratives and the problem of form’, Research in African Literatures, 42:4 (2011), 39-59 (p. 46).
Brett, ‘Girl soldiers’, p. 3.
 Mundy-Castle, A mother’s debt, 51.
 Ibid, p. 50.
 Brett, ‘Girl soldiers’, p. 3.
 Denov and MacLure, p. 77; Erin Banes, ‘Forced marriage as a political project: sexual rules and relations in the Lord’s Resistance Army’, Journal of Peace Research,(2014), 405-417 (p. 405).
 Grace Akallo and Faith McDonnell, Girl soldier: a story of hope for Northern Uganda’s children (Grand Rapids MI.: Chosen Books, 2007), p. 105.
 Khadija Alia Bah, ‘Rural women and girls in the war in Sierra Leone’, Conciliation Resources, 55:5 (1997), 612-628, (p. 3).
 Baines, ‘Forced marriage as a political project’, p. 405; Myriam Denov, ‘Wartime sexual violence: assessing a human security response to war-affected girls in Sierra Leone’, Security Dialogue, 37:3 (2006), 319-342 (p. 322).
 Denov & MacLure, ‘Engaging the voices of girls in the aftermath of Sierra Leone’s conflict: experiences and perspectives in a culture of violence, Anthropologica, 48:1 (2006), 73-85.
 Bridger, ‘Soweto’s female comrades’, p. 1.
 Senait Mehari, Heart of fire: from child soldier to soul singer (London: Profile Books, 2006), p. 79.
 Victoria Bernal, ‘Equality to die for? Women guerrilla fighters and Eritrea’s cultural revolution’, Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 23:2 (2000), 61-76 (p. 71).
 Mehari, Heart of fire, 79.
 Stacey Hynd, “To be taken as a wife is a form of death”: the social, military and humanitarian dynamics of forced marriage and girl soldiers in African conflicts, c. 1980-2010’, in Forced marriage in contemporary and historical perspective, ed. by B. Lawrence, R. Roberts and Bunting (Athens, OH.: Ohio University Press, 2016), 290-310 (p. 304).
 Liz Kelly, ‘Wars against women: sexual violence, sexual politics and the militarised state’, in States of conflict: gender, violence and resistance, ed. by Susie M. Jacobs, Ruth Jacobson and Jen Marchbank (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000), p. 49.
 Denov, ‘Wartime sexual violence’, pp. 319-320.
 China Keitetsi, Child soldier (London: Souvenir Press, 2004), p. 156; Akallo, Girl soldier, 114.
 Lisa Alfredson, ‘Sexual exploitation of child soldiers: an exploration and analysis of global dimensions and trends’, Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers (2001), p. 2.
 Mundy-Castle, A mother’s debt, 55-56.
 Samuel Okiror, ‘Abducted at nine to be a girl soldier for Kony: now people call me a killer’, The Guardian, 8 January, 2018, <https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/jan/08/abducted-girl-soldier-joseph-kony-lra-lords-resistance-army-uganda> [last accessed, 27 February, 2018].
 Miranda Worthen, Grace Onyango, Mike Wessells, Angela Veale and Susan McKay, ‘Facilitating war-affected young mothers, Reintegration: lessons from a participatory action research study in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda’, International Journal of Social Science Studies, 1 (2013), 145-149 (p. 141).
 Susan McKay, Malia Robinson, Maria Gonsalves and Miranda Worthen, ‘Girls formerly associated with fighting forces and their children: returned and neglected’, Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers (2006), pp. 1-2.
 Reed, ‘The reintegration of female child soldiers into Society’, p. 2
 Megan Mackenzie, Female soldiers in Sierra Leone: sex, security and post-conflict development (New York, : New York University Press, 2012), p. 46.
 Okiror, ‘Abducted at nine to be a girl soldier for Kony’, The Guardian.
 Reed, ‘The reintegration of female child soldiers’, pp. 20-21
 Ibid., p. 24.