‘Other Inhumane Acts’: Forced Marriage, Girl Soldiers and the Special Court for Sierra Leone

Authored by: Augustine J. Park

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR), Human Development, International Law, National Security Forces and Armed Groups, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Transitional Justice
Country: Sierra Leone
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2006
Citation: Park, Augustine J. "‘Other Inhumane Acts’: Forced Marriage, Girl Soldiers and the Special Court for Sierra Leone." Social and Legal Studies 15, no. 3 (2006): 315-337.

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The decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone gained international notoriety for the widespread use of child soldiers, and the sexual abuse and ‘forced’ marriage of girl soldiers. For the first time in international legal history, ‘forced marriage’ is being prosecuted as a ‘crime against humanity’ in Sierra Leone’s post-conflict ‘Special Court’. This represents an important step in advancing the human rights of girls, and follows a growing trend in international criminal prosecution of gender offences. Notwithstanding the significance of this indictment, international law is no panacea for the deeper inequalities and vulnerabilities that girls experience in peacetime and in wartime. This article advocates a specific focus on girls, who are often ‘disappeared’ under discourses of children and women. Moreover, using recommendations from Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, this article attempts to point to social and economic inequalities that must be addressed alongside criminal prosecution of gendered crimes against humanity.