Girl Soldiers: Amazons Appear

The idea of women fighting on the front line is always controversial. Girls in combat as part of groups of child soldiers is almost unthinkable. It’s a fact the international community has long denied but now needs to face.

The World Today
Published 1 November 2003 Updated 21 October 2020 4 minute READ

Rachel Brett

Representative on Human Rights and Refugees, Quaker UN Office, Geneva

Girl soldiers! but surely girls don’t really fight – or only incidentally? Certainly in some situations such as northern Uganda and formerly Sierra Leone, they’re abducted for sexual purposes, but that’s not soldiering? The protestations are predictable. Some people know about the use of girl soldiers by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka or the FARC in Colombia, but assume that these are exceptions.

This illustrates the hidden and misrepresented nature of the issue. As one girl soldier from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) put it: ‘There were more than what people say.’ Indeed, the so-called Amazons in both the DRC and the Congo were known and feared by male soldiers because of their ferocious reputation.

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