Saturday, November 1, 2008

The suffering of a girl soldier...


This is one of dozens of e-mails I receive from the United Nations News Centre everyday since 11 year s ago. However, this particular story gained much of my attention. I just want to share it with you...

Although the plight of child soldiers embroiled in conflicts across the globe is better known, the fate of girls remains overlooked. They are often the victims of sexual violence and exploitation, recruited by rebel groups to serve as combatants and “sex slaves”. And even when they are freed, the stigma of rape and their association with militias remains.

The Story

The way Eva, all of 13 years old, carries her four-month old baby shows the burden of her suffering. She was abducted on her way to school, gang-raped, subject to forced nudity, and used as a sexual slave by a dissident armed group in Eastern Congo for more then two years. After several attempts, she managed to escape and realized that she was pregnant.

Rejected by several communities, she roamed from one village to another before finding shelter in the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). “We miss girls in our interventions because many of them are unwilling to come forward in the first place, to be identified as “bush wives” or to have their children labelled as “rebel babies,” says Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

Communities often stigmatize and ostracize girls because of their association with rebel groups and the “taint” of having been raped. But ironically, even where associations between perpetrators and their victims began with abduction, rape and violence, over several years “family units” might have developed which include babies born of rape.

Often, rebel groups categorically refuse to give up the girls at all, even after having committed to release children. Reintegration is generally seen as the final stage of disarming and demobilizing armed groups. For child soldiers it can be a complex and difficult process, requiring counselling, monitoring and other forms of care over and above economic and educational support.

For the girls, many of them mothers, rebuilding their lives requires long-term support. Building emotional trust and reconciling with family and community are as key as providing access to education and developing a means of livelihood. A community-based approach, in which families and communities are central to defining and providing support, affords the best chances of success.

This must be the focus for the international community, while at the same time it works to ensure there is no impunity for those who enslaved the child soldiers.

BUJAI's comment: Malaysia is most fortunate. We may have remote cases of child labor but most of them are doing it 'to help family business'. We should remain patriotic in order to keep the country free from the wrongdoings reported by the UN.

5 comments:

SYLVIA, KL said...

bro. poverty, political instability and civil unrest normally will force the victims to find ways to survive. africa and some parts of latin america are under this circumstances. yes, we are lucky for being malaysians but do all malaysians appreaciate what we have?

Anonymous said...

BRO,
I WAS IN CONGO A FEW YEARS AGO AND I HEARD SIMILAR CASES WHICH WERE TREATED AS NOTHING BY THE GOVERNMENT.

WHY? THEY WERE INVOLVED IN POLITICAL TURMOIL.

MALAYSIA IS OUR BELOVED COUNTRY. LIKE U SAY, WE OUGHT TO BE PATRIOTIC ABOUT IT

Anonymous said...

jai,

In Africa's case, the Africans themselves must share the blame and start getting their acts together. You and I have been there and we know what its like. I was both in Harare and Conakry, Guinea sometime in 97. Guinea was a very poor state. But when they put up a welcoming party for our then leader, I saw that their soldiers were well fed and they had tanks and AK47s. I guess that's where the country's money have all gone to. In Congo's case, the same thing applies. Surely the Hutus and Tutsis could have ended their hatred towards each other in Rwanda itself. But no, they wanted to carry on killing one another. The Africans must get together themselves first and start laying down arms. Otherwise there is little anybody else can do.

Mus,

linda, s'pore said...

thats very right. although we may differ from them, being patriotic will save our country from any chaos.

bujai said...

mus bro,
there are rich and poor african nations. the OAU, for instance, should find amicable solution to such problems. unfortunately, the organisation was too busy with politics to the extent that they, too, want to choose who shold become the president and leaders of certain countries.