This paper deals with girls and young women, who are involved in armed conflicts and organized armed violence, in Latin America. It is taken from both a Sociology of Law and a gender perspective. Although there are many children involved in wars today, it is important to account for those children who are also involved in organized armed violence. In doing so, we can then understand the true nature of the problem of how armed children and young people are affected socially, economically and politically in the region as a whole. The paper will present the cases of Colombia and El Salvador as examples.
In Central and South America, since the 1960s, guerrilla groups, paramilitary groups and the armed forces, have all incorporated child soldiers into their ranks. Many groups have involved young girls as child soldiers, who come primarily from peasant and indigenous groups, either by incentive or by force. This has been especially the case in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia and Peru. With the ending of the civil wars in most of these countries and the subsequent transition to new democracies, a number of young girls and boys, who had been child soldiers, fell into the arms of juvenile gangs and organized armed violence (pandillas). To understand what are the root causes and the consequences of their actions and how and why they decide to get involved in organized armed violence and armed conflicts, it is important to look at the environment they were born in and grew up in. This involves examining the effects of the civil wars and the problems of acute poverty; unemployment and violence in the family, as well as, state corruption and an oppressive state apparatus.
The study is based on the following sources, first, from the United Nations, UNICEF, UNIFEM, as well as the OAS and UNESCO and, second, from international and national NGOs, particularly Human Rights Watch, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Save the Children, Amnesty International as well as previous research on this area. The paper as well takes into consideration the role played by these national and international NGOs and the specific demobilization, re-integration and rehabilitation needs for boys and girls in those armed groups.
From a distinctly theoretical perspective, the paper looks at the interrelation between gender, age, class and ethnicity. A gender perspective on childhood and child law is also included in the discussions on theory.
Cambridge: Intersentia , 2012. 497-532 p.
gender, girls and young women, girl soldiers, armed conflicts, organised armed vilence, intersectionality, children rights, Colombia, El Salvador, Latin America