You Must Do What He Says
The life of a girl child soldier is one of pain and fear, two things no child should have to experience.
Girls are especially at risk of sexual harassment, abuse and rape. They live in the harshest of conditions, without shelter, healthcare, or adequate food. They are often the victims of unprovoked punishment and abuse.
Responsibilities of a girl soldier include:
- laying mines and explosives
- scouting or spying
- cooking and other domestic labor
- participating in armed conflict itself
- sexual activities
One girl child soldier’s story*
At the age of only fourteen, Betty Ejang of Uganda was abducted from her school by rebels, along with 83 of her fellow students. They walked to a camp in Southern Sudan, where they were trained for two days and then given to men as slaves.
For three years Betty was sexually abused, living in the desert where there was never enough water or food. She was forced to do whatever her rebel leader demanded, including raiding villages and one time even shooting a man who had attempted escape. “Since he can kill you,” Betty explained, “you must do what he says."
After three years, Betty finally had an opportunity to escape while the soldiers were returning from a village. She hid on the road for eight hours as the soldiers marched past until she had a chance to run for help, finding government troops not too far away. After showing them where she had escaped from, they offered her shelter and protection. Three weeks later she was reunited with her father, who had thought she was dead.
Betty has now completed high school and wants to study medicine. Her experiences as a girl soldier, however, leave her with no intention of ever getting married. In 2002, she attended the United Nation’s special session on children in New York to raise awareness on the issue of child soldiers and hopefully motivate leaders to take action.
*Content based on article by Jennifer Friedlin - WEnews correspondent, 14 June 2002
Think—What would you do if you were a pregnant girl soldier and knew of no other choices: Would you stay with your soldier husband, or would you return to a community that may or may not accept you?
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