Why Do Children ‘Fight’? Explaining Child Soldier Ratios in African Intrastate Conflicts
This Ford Institute for Human Security report conducts a cross-national study on the issue of child soldiering. According to research, there is little correlation between poverty/orphan rates and the likelihood of child soldiers in armed conflict. A database illustrating child soldier participation rates against poverty, stress, and orphans was put together. Then a multiple regression test assessed the impact of all three factors. The report reveals that the factors directly impacting child soldier rates were associated to the access to refugee and internally displaced persons camps, where lack of protection increased the risk of child soldiering. Protection in these camps is often lacking, thus allowing warring factions and rebel groups to penetrate the camps’ structures and to leave refugees in dangerous situations. The results suggest that stationing large numbers of armed troops to protect individuals in these camps can reduce the rates of child soldiers.
Reich, Simon and Vera Achvarina. “Why Do Children ‘Fight’? Explaining Child Soldier Ratios in African Intrastate Conflicts.” Ford Institute for Human Security. Web. September 2013. <http://www.fordinstitute.pitt.edu/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=9t%2BeoClcYdA%3D&tabid=471>.
The Use of Child Soldiers
Dana Landau looks into the various reasons why rates of child soldiering have spiked in regions of Africa during times of prolonged war. Landau finds a positive correlation between the duration of a war and the likelihood of child recruitment. As armed groups in the region are drained of adult fighters, they often resort to adolescents who lack alternative educational or economic opportunities. Child soldiers have proved both efficient and beneficial for many armed groups; those children have grown amongst the atrocities of warfare and are thus easy to exploit and fearless at battle. One Myanmar soldier shared with the media: “There were a lot of boys rushing into the field screaming like banshees. It seemed like they were immortal […] because we shot at them but they just kept coming.” The spike in the use of child soldiers, particularly in Africa, can also be attributed to the cultural fact that some communities in Africa believe that children possess magical or extraordinary powers. According to the Ford Institute for Human Security at the University of Pittsburgh, Africa has also experienced an influx in rates of child soldiering due to poor protection by forces of refugee camps from warring factions as further elaborated in the report mentioned above.
Landau, Dana. “The Use of Child Soldiers.” International Relations and Security Network. Web. September 2013. <http://www.isn.ethz.ch/content/download/8067/80345/>.
Sex Trafficking in South and Southeast Asia on the Rise
Sameena Azhar’s report on the issues surrounding Southeast Asia’s sex trafficking clearly outlines many of the societal and cultural factors that have led to the market’s prominence in this region. Azhar explains that in most cases, women are often deceived into joining brothels and becoming prostitutes by being given promises of economic prosperity, as most are taken from rural communities through expansive networks of illegal trafficking. Negative social values have also taken a toll on the elevating rates of sex trafficking. Many societies throughout Asia underscore the importance of women maintaining their virginity until marriage. Azhar points out that this stigma regarding sex has put a strain on women especially in cases of rape, in which many women believe they have lost their marital value. Consequently, they resort to the commercial sex trade industry because they view it as their only option. In addition, there are several farming families who are obligated to sell their daughters to trafficking when they have difficulty in making ends meet. The lack of basic education is another common factor. According to Azhar, a high percentage of prostitutes have “four years of compulsory education and are between ten and nineteen years old.” As a result, the lack of educated family planning leads to having large families, which often imposes a cycle of economic burdens, which could then continue the cycle of human and/or sex trafficking.
Azhar, Sameena. “Sex Trafficking in South and Southeast Asia on the Rise.” Hardboiled. Web. September 2013. <http://hardboiled.berkeley.edu/issues/51/51-01-sextrafficking.html>.