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Girls as "Weapons of Terror" in Northern Uganda and Sierra Leonean Rebel Fighting Forces

NCJ Number
Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume: 28 Issue: 5 Dated: September-October 2005 Pages: 385-397
Susan McKay
Date Published
September 2005
13 pages
This article analyzes the participation of girls in two terrorist organizations: the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone.
While women’s participation in terrorist acts is increasingly a topic of social research, the experiences of girls within terrorist organizations is poorly understood or is simply subsumed under the category of “female.” Indeed, within the context of rebel terrorist forces, girls’ participation is largely cast as victimization or forced participation. Drawing on field work conducted in September 2001 and June 2002 in Northern Uganda and Sierra Leone, the author analyzes girls as actors within the LRA and the RUF who witness and participate in various forms of terrorist violence. Many of the girls’ stories are recounted, almost of all them involving abduction and sexual abuse. Although girls were sexually abused and assigned as “wives” to other members, many were also trained to fight and to spy for the rebel forces. When these girls return to their communities, they are often eschewed and many, conversely, eschew marriage as a result of the sexual and physical abuse perpetrated on them by men during their period of abduction. In closing, the author contends that the world must address the injustices experienced by these girls so that they can escape the stigmatization attached to their forced participation in terrorist acts and sexual abuse. Notes