Girls as “Weapons of Terror” in Northern Uganda and Sierra Leonean Rebel Fighting Forces

Authored by: Susan McKay

Categories: Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: National Security Forces and Armed Groups, Violent Extremism
Country: Uganda, Sierra Leone
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2005
Citation: McKay, Susan. "Girls as 'Weapons of Terror' in Northern Uganda and Sierra Leonean Rebel Fighting Forces." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 28, no. 5 (2005): 385–397.

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Girls—both willingly and unwillingly—participate in terrorist acts within the context of contemporary wars. These acts range from targeting civilians for torture and killing to destroying community infrastructures so that people’s physical and psychological health and survival are affected. Girls witness or participate in acts such as mutilation, human sacrifice, forced cannibalism, drug use, and physical and psychological deprivation. This article focuses upon girls in two fighting forces: the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone and their roles as combatants whose primary strategy is perpetrating terrorist acts against civilians. In analyses of gender and terrorism, girls are typically subsumed under the larger category of female, which marginalizes their experiences and fails to recognize that they possess agency and power.