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Childhood DeployedRemaking Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone$
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Susan Shepler

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780814724965

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814724965.001.0001

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Distinctions in the Population of “Child Soldiers”

Distinctions in the Population of “Child Soldiers”

RUF and CDF, Boys and Girls

(p.131) 5 Distinctions in the Population of “Child Soldiers”
Childhood Deployed

Susan Shepler

NYU Press

This chapter takes up two important distinctions in the population of child soldiers in Sierra Leone: the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the Civil Defense Force (CDF), and boys and girls. The child ex-combatants of the RUF rebels and CDF militias have very different postwar experiences and are understood quite differently by child protection workers and policy makers, even though on the face of it they experienced similar traumas. Ex-combatant benefits tend to come through still-existing wartime command structures, and in order to access these benefits boys must stay within a patrimonial system rather than adopting the “child soldier” identity based on modern constructions of youth. Across another axis of differentiation, the girls' postwar experiences are quite different from those of boys. Only a handful of girls went through formal demobilization and reintegration programs.

Keywords:   Revolutionary United Front, Civil Defense Force, girls' postwar experiences, wartime command structures, child soldier identity, ex-combatant benefits

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