Chapter 8: The voiceless child soldiers of Afghanistan
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This chapter addresses the agency of children associated with armed forces and armed groups in Afghanistan. Although globally there may be a continuum of volunteerism upon which the child soldier experience may be mapped, Afghanistan presents as a point on the far end of that continuum. In Afghanistan, children do not enrol to fight with armed non-state actors (Taleban, ISIS or militias) or the armed forces. This choice is usually made for them by the family or the community. In a context that has witnessed a surge in recruitment, male Afghan children have been kidnapped, sold, exchanged for protection and coerced to join for a salary. Once recruited, these children endure exposure to violence, drugs and sexual abuses. Death or migration are among the most realistic ‘exit’ patterns, so to speak. The chapter unpacks how to understand and approach child soldiers struggling within highly coercive socio-political contexts.

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