Girl "child soldiers" left behind in Sierra Leone

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Smet, Stijn
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This thesis deals with the problematic of girls associated with armed forces or armed groups (GAAFs) and their reintegration into community after armed conflicts, focusing on their discrimination both in society and by reintegration programmes. It is divided into two main chapters. Chapter I provides a general overview of the situation GAAFs find themselves in during their time with the fighting forces and during the reintegration process. Chapter II comprises of a case study of GAAFs’ reintegration in Sierra Leone. In this chapter I will examine the experiences of GAAFs during the armed conflict and their demobilisation and reintegration after the end of the armed conflict, with a specific focus on the involvement of GAAFs in the official DDR Programme, the adequacy of that Programme to address GAAFs’s specific needs, problems encountered during their reintegration, the phenomenon of self-demobilisation along with an analysis of UNICEF’s Girls Left Behind Project, the use of cleansing ceremonies in GAAFs’ reintegration, specific issues relating to GAAFs’ reintegration and an analysis of the impact of a lack of funding on their reintegration. In a final part I will show that a window of opportunity to improve gender relations has opened up in the aftermath of Sierra Leone’s armed conflict after which I will analyse whether the actors involved in the reintegration of GAAFs have taken this opportunity to create more gender equality in the post-conflict society.
Second semester University: University of Vienna
child soldiers, Sierra Leone, reintegration, women soldiers