The Shadow Armies
I have been in a quandary over this issue of just how much detail to put into my Maraude series in depicting the use of children. But the more I do the research, I’m not wrong. My books may not be popular, which will be my down fall I’m sure, but this story needs to be told.
The Child Soldier
Many have heard the recent events in Chad and the Congo and other areas of Africa where the warlords are using children as regular army recruits. But we forget, or ignored the past decades of Asian, Latin and Caucus states doing the same.
The idea is simple. Children are malleable especially when they are possibly orphaned already from conflict and starvation and are themselves looking for a way to survive.
No, the concept is far from new. And it isn’t going away. But I have news for you, only about 60% of these soldiers are the boys you have seen in the news clips. According to all of the statistics I have found from the UN and other reporting and legal institutions that are doing what they can to get rid of this situation, the ratio of girl soldiers to boys is roughly 4:6. A recent estimation is that there are currently 300,000 child troops across the globe.
The Save The Children Fund report mentioned later said in 2005 that the ratio of girls to boys may even be closer to a full half.
Girls not only serve as active fighters but also perform other military services, from intelligence and medical support to cleaning and cooking. Worse, a number of young—even prepubescent—girls are used as sex slaves to service the forces and/or are coerced into pseudo-marriages with commanders of armed groups – says a report by Susan McKay and Dyan Mazurana. Often commanders of armed groups prefer child soldiers because young children, especially the girls, are more obedient, vulnerable, and malleable, and their moral codes are unformed and readily manipulated. Children can be indoctrinated early to become the next generation of terrorists and rebels as well as a sympathetic support base in civil society. And because most child soldiers are unpaid and can be fed less, they provide quick and cheap fighter power on demand. With the proliferation of light but deadly arms, even very young girls can serve as combat soldiers. This was reported in a 2004 report detailing the Crimes against Liberian President Charles Taylor. In one report, a humanitarian worker in Liberia in 2003, near the end of the 10-year civil war, reported seeing a “child soldier so small that the barrel of her gun was dragging on the ground.”
Now, imagine the situation there… Migratory girls are separated from their families either by force or other means, they become the property of the rebel armies. Meaning they will, regardless of age, service the men and older boys of the army, as seen fit. This is why there is such an outcry from those who see the truth. These sexually ravaged children also must endure the concept of death by their own hands, creating a very disconnected child. Their wills are broken.
Another big issue of this situation? These battles eventually are over. The warlord is over thrown, the commanders are scattered. The forced marriages that have made them the property of the warlords are broken. The children are sent back to where they came from and try to go back to a normal semblance of life. Which is impossible to those who are already known to be soldiers.
The sexual exploitation of these girls is known and they are considered unclean for marriage. For some of them, the brutality that they have caused, makes the people fear what they are capable of. So many of the girls return and hide what they had been doing, but many of them are now caring for a rape baby or the guilt of having killed their own child or are now carrying STDs from the daily sexual abuse.
The 2005 report by the Save the Children Fund, titled Forgotten Casualties of War: Girls in Armed Conflict, emphasized not only the abuse against female children but also the difficulties in reintegrating the girls into their communities. Programs of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) have had less success with girl child soldiers because females are regularly met with censure and rejection. They are caught in a catch 22 where they are trapped between recrimination from the armed group if they leave and from the community if they return home. Many girls, according to the report, are “too scared to stay and too scared to leave” armed groups, and many never have a choice. Communities reject them as “unclean,” “immoral,” or even as “whores” who have dirtied the family’s honor. Those girls returning with babies found even greater resentment and isolation in their communities. Once the girls were seen as promiscuous and trouble making, and without a social-support network or livelihood, the cycle of victimization and abuse often continued, as girls who were former child soldiers were compelled to turn to the sex trade in order to survive. Without the community’s protection, they may be at greater risk for re-recruitment by armed groups.
Boys with amputated hands have a better chance of being accepted back in the community than girls who have been sexually victimized during their time in the armed forces, according to the report ‘Where are the girls?’ by Susan McKay from the University of Wyoming and Dyan Mazurana from the Tufts University.
The end result of that? Many will never be treated for the PTSD that will definitely be more severe than anything our American soldiers ever felt. It may seem like I’m over stepping a line there when I’m not a veteran myself, but I’m not. Combine the PTSD of a soldier and a rape victim then you see why the concern.
I know of no statistics but if this were American kids we were talking about, the suicide rates would be astronomical.
The Public Eye
There have been numerous attempts to at least warn the popular culture of such possibilities. Even if these popular anime series’ and movies weren’t intended for this purpose, they are what led to my awakening. Popular anime and manga Gunslinger Girl shows a government using medically altered girls for anti-terrorist and spy-like scenarios. A recent movie born of a popular graphic novel, Kick Ass, chronicled a teen becoming a celebrity of SuperHero proportions, but his strongest ally was a young girl named, appropriately Hit Girl, whose father taught her all of the tricks of the trade. Our recent fascination with George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones has turned up at least one situation where this model might be headed. I haven’t read the books yet, but judging by the direction of the HBO series, Arya Stark may just be a predator on the rise, herself. The popularity of the book series The Hunger Games spawned a movie based on the first novel, but there are mixed emotions about children being used in warfare. There is also a quietly missed movie called Hanna that dealt with a similar issue of a genetically altered girl who was trained to be an assassin. Most people I have talked to don’t want to think about Kony’s clean up squad of seven to ten year old girls that went through a recently won village and finished off all of the survivors with machetes, much less a 16 year old girl named Katness becoming a Tribute to save her sister’s life.
A recent video from Free The Children which is an advocacy group that is helping not only release child soldiers but children in other gross situations as well, describes this very well in seven minutes:
My upcoming series is going to chronicle a little known conspiracy theory about facilities that use orphans and kidnapped children for CIA-like covert operations to be used by upper class societies very similar to what we consider the Illuminati to be. These children are taken to a facility to be “trained” for their duties. One program that has been mentioned of the China Lake theory is the Monarch Program… I’ll let you research that as I don’t have the space to dictate what has already been covered so well in other places. A simple Google search for the Monarch Program or China Lake should turn up some interesting reading, even if it is only theory.
Now To You:
What are your thoughts on this epidemic?
Just how detailed should I get in my descriptions of these atrocities?
I have a feeling I’m not going to be very popular.
Posted on May 9, 2012, in To Ponder, writings and tagged Arya Stark, atrocities, child soldiers, china lake, demobilization, disarmament, girl soldiers, gunslinger girl, hit girl, monarch program, reintegration, shadow armies. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.