Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Mind Trafficking: Child Soldiers in Africa

By Ayesha Ahmad

The figure is staggering: there are 200,000 child soldiers across the continent of Africa.

"Recruitment" takes the form of kidnapping: villages are raided by rebel groups who pillage and destroy leaving dead bodies and burning homes in their wake.

After the devastation is complete, the children are gathered and taken back to the rebel's camp. The children's horrific journey has just begun.

Immediately the children see and experience things the average man or woman cannot comprehend: other captives are maimed in front of them or the children are maimed themselves for crying or being frightened.

The transition is cruel and jolting. Like other forms of indoctrination in forced prostitution, forced labor and domestic slavery, the child goes into a state of shock and loses his sense of self.

More than likely these soon-to-be child soldiers have never
before visited a city. Growing up in small rural villages, they are accustomed to a quiet existence. Maybe the threat of war was always there, but they would most likely have been sheltered from the talk and fears by their parents. Or not. Either way, as with many things in life something only happens to others... until it happens to you.

Suddenly they are thrust into a living nightmare; all around them is killing. Having just experienced their families being killed, the children are told that they too have to kill or be killed.

Sometimes they have to kill their family as part of their initiation. Killing to save their life. Even in this type of living hell, survival is still an issue.

But how can a child kill?

The rebel armies work from the first minute to brainwash the children. To blame the other armies for the
deaths of their parents.

The rebels incite anger.

They use a child’s vulnerability to instill a simple world view: kill or be killed. And most importantly kill those who killed their family. The child becomes an empty vessel, his true personality buried underneath the anger and hatred the rebel armies instill in their young minds.
Could this be the worst form of trafficking: the brainwashing and trafficking of a child's mind to create violence, bloodshed and brutality?

Many of these children are under twelve years old. They raid villages, they guard border points, they are under control day and night by the rebels; the only adults these children have left in their young lives.

Rehabilitation programmes can be successful, but the road to healing is a long and arduous process. A child soldier's
ability to bounce back from their horrific experiences and begin to find joy and trust in life again, however, illustrates the great resilience of a child’s mind, of the human mind.

Those who traffic children and force them to soldier, on the other hand, know the capability of a child’s mind all too well. Indeed, this amazing ability to adjust, to adapt, to survive can be molded to any situation, whether for the greater good or the greater evil.

A child enters the world with no paradigms, no preconceived notions, no stereotypes or limitations on what they can or cannot do. They are blank canvasses upon which we adults paint the rules and ways of the world as we understand them, as our community, society, nation and world dictates.

As a child solider, their mind is twisted, brainwashed and pigeon-holed into a reality based on violence and killing.

The child soldier is the saddest of
trafficking victims.


  1. Anonymous10:24 AM

    This is very sad. :'(

  2. Anonymous1:49 PM

    This is just not the life a child should have='[

  3. Anonymous1:49 PM

    That is very very sad o get a kid and tell them to kill or get killed. :(

  4. i look at my little brother and think of him holding a gun is just to hard to comprehend.... and yet that is what is happening to this kids :(

  5. Anonymous4:01 PM

    we have to change this world for the next generation its 2011 i such things shouldnt even be brought up. Fuck it am gonna make the world a better place for all or die trying