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  • A Stolen Childhood: A Look into the World of Female Child Soldiers and the Initiatives Targeting the Ending of the Practice

    Child soldiers present unique challenges to the international community. Who are these children that are in the armed forces? What constitutes a “child soldier”? Can the practice be stopped? The United Nations took up these questions, and more, with the ratification of the Conventions on the Rights of the Child in 1990. Since then, the international community has come together on a variety of initiatives to target the ending of the use of child soldiers. However, what the international community has not yet recognized is the specific challenges facing female child soldiers: from the distinct roles they play in the camps to the issues arising during reintegration. Research suggests that more needs to be done to protect these young girls before their childhood is completely taken away. Part I of this paper will discuss the prevalence of child soldiers. Part II addresses the methods used to recruit the children into conflict. Part III will discuss the unique dynamics facing female child soldiers and the prominent dichotomy that exists between these young girls’ experiences. Part IV will conclude with the international initiatives that are currently in place and will address what more needs to be done in order to best protect the young girls.