In many contemporary African wars, girls and women participate in fighting forces. Their involvement is sometimes voluntary, but often they are coerced or abducted. In these forces, their roles range from porters, domestics, and ‘wives’ of male fighters, to spies and commanders. Few girls go through official UN processes of disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration (DDR). Their human rights severely violated, girls face enormous challenges to physical and psycho-social recovery. Typically, they return directly to their communities, or migrate to where friends or relatives live, or resettle in urban areas, where they are at increased risk of forced prostitution, sexual assault, and/or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. This paper examines the experiences of girls who have returned from fighting forces in the recent conflict in Sierra Leone and the continuing conflict in northern Uganda. These experiences are compared with those of women who recalled their experiences when they were girl participants during the Mozambican war which ended in 1992.
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