A Lost Generation: Young People and Conflict in Africa
However, a voluntary or involuntary enlistment of young people to active military service is criminal according to the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Organisation of African Unity 1990). The youth bulge is a crisis which many African governments must address because of youth vulnerability to enlistment into war and the potential violation of children’s and human rights as a result of violent conflicts.
The legal and human rights dimension of youth participation in conflict are discussed in detail in chapter eight of this volume. The following chapter expounds the gendered participation of young people in conflict as perpetrators and their subsequent victimization. Their roles in the armed groups are determined by their genders. While the roles of boys are predominantly military in nature, the girls have borne the extra burdens of meeting the sexual demands of their captors, cooking, and forced motherhood. The horrors of sexual violence and factors of sexuality are factors in the heart of violent conflicts in Africa because sexual violence is not invented in situations of war but are a continuation of the practice in normal situations. The war escalates sexual violence against girls and women, which can be attributed to masculinities, male power and domination over female.