Girl Soldiers: Forgotten Casualties of War
As secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was visibly shaken by sexual crimes against women and girls when she visited the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2009. Sexual crimes in this central African country, known as the “rape capital of the world,” include the sexual exploitation of tens of thousands of girls abducted and trapped as child soldiers. Nonetheless, since 2010, President Obama has waived a congressionally mandated ban on military aid to countries known to exploit child soldiers, among them the DRC.
The DRC’s eastern region is exceedingly rich in rare minerals and exceedingly rife with decades of brutal war over those minerals. This country and three others—Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan—each of which exploits thousands of child soldiers, will receive more than $161 million in U.S. military aid in fiscal year 2016.
The Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2008 bans the U.S. government from providing military resources and aid to countries that use soldiers younger than 18; it allows a presidential waiver in cases of “national interest,” however. But what possible “national interest” can override the lives of tens of thousands of children shattered in the worst of childhood nightmares—lives of being forced to torture, kill and rape, and in the case of girls, lives of being serially raped and impregnated?
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This is an article by Pay Hynes which appears on Truthdig.
Photo: Mark Rain