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This book is a product of a research project called ‘voices of youth’ carried out - page 111 / 125

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A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa

the challenges that single girls face:

“You have to do everything on your own, no one to support you, no one to help you bring the children morally, and no one to show to the children that, that is your father, grandfather and worst still not even a clan where they belong. I almost committed suicide because I could not see the end to this suffering.” (Child-mother, Uganda Case Study, 2006)

“The problem with us girls is that if someone deceives you & you get pregnant, he will abandon you immediately. [H]e won’t help you … . [T]he father of the child [will not] acknowledge you. I brought these two children up myself, with no-one to help me.” (Karondo Spes, Burundi Case Study)

C. Conclusion: The Way Forward: Broad Based Approach?

“Well, I love this child whose father I don’t know, & I love him just because like the other children. I love him because it was me who gave birth to him, and to me he’s just the same as the others. And as well as that, I thank God for what He has done for me, because I think all my children are gifts which He has given me, because not everyone is able to have children.” (Child mother, Burundi Case Study 2006)

The challenges that young girls face in time of war are enormous. As the research that this book is based upon demonstrates, there is a wide gap between the law in the books and actual practice. Indeed, this study shows that legal measures are unable to offer a lasting solution to the plight of young girls who are caught up in conflict situations as well as in the post-conflict era. As such, addressing some of the challenges that have been identified in this chapter requires a broad based approach. This would entail undertaking legal and non-legal measures. It is important to study the laws in Burundi and Uganda to determine compliance to international standards as a precursor to legal undertakings to protect young girls and women’s rights in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Firstly, it is important to strengthen the rule of law, particularly in the pre-conflict era. It is apparent that the time to educate the public on human rights and humanitarian issues is when there is relative peace. Experience shows that in times of conflict the main objective of many is to save their lives. Accordingly, it is less ideal a time to impart information on how parties should conduct themselves.

In addition, considering the trauma that many young girls experience in time of armed conflict, it is crucial to provide social and psychological support in the post war period. The aim should be to rehabilitate the girls, and turn them into functional

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