Research Handbook on Child Soldiers
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Research Handbook on Child Soldiers

Edited by Mark A. Drumbl and Jastine C. Barrett

Child soldiers remain poorly understood and inadequately protected, despite significant media attention and many policy initiatives. This Research Handbook aims to redress this troubling gap. It offers a reflective, fresh and nuanced review of the complex issue of child soldiering. The Handbook brings together scholars from six continents, diverse experiences, and a broad range of disciplines. Along the way, it unpacks the life-cycle of youth and militarization: from recruitment to demobilization to return to civilian life. The overarching aim of the Handbook is to render the invisible visible – the contributions map the unmapped and chart new directions. Challenging prevailing assumptions and conceptions, the Research Handbook on Child Soldiers focuses on adversity but also capacity: emphasising the resilience, humanity, and potentiality of children affected (rather than ‘afflicted’) by armed conflict.
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Chapter 4: ‘We were controlled, we were not allowed to express our sexuality, our intimacy was suppressed’: sexual violence experienced by boys

Omer Aijazi, Evelyn Amony and Erin Baines

Abstract

Why are academic and policy discourses on child soldiers relatively silent on sexual violence against boys in armed groups? Drawing from the experiences of boys forcibly conscripted into the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), this chapter seeks to transcend the gendered language of sexual slavery, concubines, forced pregnancy and rape. Most sexual and intimate relations in the LRA were violent impositions given the group’s modus operandi of forced conscription and sexual regulation. Keeping this in mind, the chapter maps the multiple forms of sexual violence experienced by boys following their abduction and coming of age within the armed group. We note the erasures and conceptual challenges the category of the child soldier poses and highlight the need to advance analytical assemblages that extend beyond ageist and gendered understandings of sexual violence.

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