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This book is a product of a research project called ‘voices of youth’ carried out - page 31 / 125





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A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa

who were abducted as well as those who joined voluntarily (sometimes with the encouragement of their parents and teachers) and those who were enticed into enlisting with promises of substantial salaries. It is believed that UNICEF made provision for a total of 4,000 child combatants to be demobilised; by June 2005, 2,985 children were said to have been through the process. Numbers of children passing through the formal demobilisation system have been in part determined by agreements between UN supervisory agencies and the various armed movements, and limited by the numbers declared by the latter.

Youth have paid an extremely high price for the war, especially since large numbers were recruited into the armed groups. And it was youth who were most driven into delinquency, either as a result of being orphaned or by being displaced or otherwise forced to discontinue their studies. However, girls experienced the consequences of war in a different way to boys7. While men were killed and young boys enrolled in armed groups, girls were also enrolled, but the girls and women were victims

of sexual abuse and other larger numbers than adult

forms of women8.

personal violence, and girls Yet women and girls who

were targeted in suffered this fate













to speak of their sufferings, while the perpetrators continued, with impunity.

1.4 Background to the research

As part of the project ‘Support to the economic and social reintegration of war- affected young girls who have suffered violence’, ACORD works with a group of 400 girls in Bujumbura municipality and in Kayanza province. The project started in April 2005 and works with girls affected by the war in the following categories: abducted girls, girl ex-soldiers, ex-wives of combatants, girls who have been rejected from early marriages, and child mothers who were abused during the war. The project comprises four components:

  • The psycho-social component provides counselling for traumatised girls and helps them recover self-esteem and hope for the future. At the same time it works with the community, and particularly parents, with a view to ensuring the girls’ social reintegration as well as combating stigmatisation

  • The economic component trains the girls in various occupations and supports them in setting up micro-projects. It supports them in the management of the projects to enable them to become economically independent

  • The legal component trains the girls in their rights and procedures for taking cases to court, provides legal assistance to rape survivors, and advocates for legal measures against rape

  • The advocacy component organises demonstrations and uses media to raise awareness about the issue of sexual abuse of girls as well as the human rights

n focus group discussions in Kayanza Province, communities identified more than 00 girls in each commune who had been affected by violence in war in one way or another – had been raped, abducted, orphaned, had become child mothers, etc. Sexual violence against boys is also a reality, though in much smaller numbers than for girls: it is known, for example, that street boys are vulnerable to rape. However, as with other forms of homosexuality, the subject is still extremely sensitive and almost no reliable information is available. 8

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