Girls in conflict
It is clear that there are categories of children who are especially vulnerable in situations of armed conflict, such as girls, refugee and internally displaced children, and child-headed households. These children require special advocacy, attention and protection.
The girl child is often the victim of sexual violence and exploitation, and, increasingly, girl children are being recruited into fighting forces.
In intervention initiatives for war-affected children, such as community-based reintegration programmes for children associated with fighting forces, it is girls that are in greatest need of care
Girls are missed as many of them are unwilling to come forward in the first place, to be identified as “bush wives” or to have their children labeled as “rebel babies.”
Communities often stigmatize and ostracize girls because of their association with rebel groups and the “taint” of having been raped. Often, rebel groups categorically refuse to give up the girls at all even after commitments have been made to release children. In many conflict situations combatants have been reluctant to release girls to transit care facilities, holding them captive as “wives.”
What grabs the headlines is children being killed and maimed by the bombs and bullets of war. But some are recruited to become soldiers themselves and are placed directly in the firing line. When the heat of battle is over, landmines and unexploded ordinance can leave a deadly legacy for years.
Rape and sexual violence are increasingly being used as a weapon of war. Many girls and young women have babies as a result, or are injured in such a way that they cannot have children in the future.
Questions to consider
Sexual and gender-based violence and the vulnerability of girls in the context of armed conflicts must be a priority for Member States. Member States should also give priority attention to addressing sexual and gender-based violence, including through adoption of appropriate national legislation and rigorous and systematic investigation and prosecution of such crimes, with emphasis on support to and the well-being of victims.
How can countries work together to protect violence against girls and children in conflict and post-conflict zones?
How does this issue affect your country?
What needs to be done?