Tuesday, June 1, 2010
In Their Own Words. The Child Soldiers.
Another hideous facet of human trafficking is the use of child soldiers. According to UNICEF there are 300,000 children serving as soldiers, guerrillas, spies, sex slaves (for their superiors), and suicide commandos in conflicts in 50 different nations. Children as young as five are stolen from their villages, forced to kill their families, robbed of all innocence, and psychologically brutalized. The following are their words. Their names have been abbreviated to protect them and their families.
L-., age 7
The rebels told me to join them, but I said no. Then they killed my smaller brother. I changed my mind. (source: Radio Netherlands)
A-., age 12
I was very scared. It was an attack on the paramilitaries. We killed about seven of them. We had to drink their blood to conquer our fear. Only the scared ones had to. I was the most scared of all, because I was the youngest. (source: Human Rights Watch)
D-., age 16
I was attending primary school. The rebels came and attacked us. They killed my mother and father in front of my eyes. I was ten years old. They took me with them...taught us to fight. The first time I killed someone, I got so sick, I thought I was going to die. (source: Radio Netherlands)
A-., age 16
I was forced to do amputations. We had a cutlass, an ax, and a big log. We called the villagers out and let them stand in line. You ask whether they want a long hand or a short hand [amputation at the wrist or the elbow]. The long hand you put in a different bag from the short hand. If you have a large number of amputated hands in the bag, the promotion will be automatic, to various ranks. (source: Newsweek)
D-., age 16
When we attacked a town, we would rape people. When we saw a lot of girls, we'd rape. Even I had a woman. I was twelve at the time. She was about 15. Our commanders said all of us had to have a woman. If we didn't they'd kill us. (source: Radio Netherlands)
Warning. The next quote is extremely graphic and disturbing. I really anguished about including it. But we need to know what these children go through on a daily basis. Just be warned. It's that brutal.
K-., girl, age 13
We were taken to a mosque in Kissy [Sierra Leone]. They killed everyone in there..... They were snatching babies from their mother's arms and tossing them in the air. The babies would free-fall to their deaths. At other times they would also chop them from the back of their heads to kill them, you know like you do when you slaughter chickens....One girl with us tried to escape. They made her take off her slippers and give them to me and then killed her. One time we came across two pregnant women. They tied the women down with their legs eagle-spread and took a sharpened stick and jabbed them inside of their wombs until the babies came out on the stick. (source: Physicians For Human Rights)
This unconscionable and detestable type of child exploitation must stop. If you want to get involved, here are some organizations that fight to stop the use of child soldiers. World Vision, Invisible Children, Coalition to Stop the Use Of Child Soldiers, and War Child International.
Also, P.W. Singer's book Children At War is a rather exhaustive volume on child soldiers if you would like to study this aspect of human trafficking in more depth. The previous quotes were collected there, along with many others.