With all the world’s chatter about human slavery, especially sex trafficking and sweat shops, it seems that child soldiers have often been overlooked. Tragically, many don’t understand that it is these kid warriors who are exposed to EVERY form of modern slavery. The International Labour Organization (ILO) calls child soldiering one of the cruelest forms of modern day slavery because it incorporates forced physical labor, subjection to war and sexual exploitation.
Child soldiers are fighters under the age of 18 used to serve in government forces, rebel opposition groups and guerilla armies. They are trained to kill. Small bodies that are not meant to be operating weapons are now mastering the usage of assault rifles (usually the AK-47), machetes and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) on the front lines. They are also used as human shields and minesweepers, and are sent out to investigate opponent locations during battle.
The reality many of us don’t consider is that if these children are not engaged in warfare they are often used for “combat support.” This includes roles in which children are used as porters, cooks and prostitutes for the older soldiers. In some cases, the child soldiers have to keep other kids “in their place” through gang beatings, rape or worse. Here is an excerpt from one girl child soldier’s account, which we’ll reveal in more detail in Part II (it is too disturbing for a single post):
“One boy tried to escape, but he was caught. They made him eat a mouthful of red pepper, and five people were beating him. His hands were tied, and then they made us, the other new captives, kill him with a stick.”
To be continued…