Girls in Armed Forces and Groups in Angola: Implications for Ethical Research and Reintegration in Child Soldiers in the Age of Fractured States

One of the most significant violations of human rights is the recruitment of children, defined under international law as people under eighteen years of age, into armed forces such as national armies or armed groups such as the opposition groups that fight government forces in more than twenty countries. This violation of children’s rights takes an enormous toll on children and societies. Although the physical damage to children garners the most attention, extensive harm arises also from the interaction of physical, psychological, social, and spiritual factors.

This paper examines the case of girls’ recruitment in Angola, which has received relatively little attention. The Angolan case is particularly interesting because it reveals that girls’ recruitment is neither incidental nor driven by convenience but owes to commanders’ desire to exploit girls as resources in particularized ways that are tailored to the local context and are aimed to procure the resources needed to fight in an effective manner.