Girls After the Gunfire : A study of recently released girl child soldiers rehabilitating in an Eastern Sri Lankan Vocational Training Center
Abstract: In disadvantaged areas of Eastern Sri Lanka, girls tend to be more vulnerable to both voluntary and forced recruitment by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). This thesis focused on how a group of recently released young female ex combatants reintegrated into their community. This was done through a case study of girls in a vocational training program in Eastern Sri Lanka, who had been released by the Karuna faction of the LTTE in April 2004. Concepts derived from empowerment and vulnerability theories have been used to examine the challenges faced by the girls during their reintegration process. In contrast to the claim made by some recent studies that the LTTE empowers women through their "equal" role within the militancy, my study showed that the released girls are disempowered and vulnerable. They suffered from a fragile sense of self, a lack of confidence in an uncertain environment, and a lack of opportunity due to a prolonged absence from formal education. Further, I argued that the case study illustrated that unless programs offer empowerment opportunities and address gender specific needs, the ex-combatant girls cannot be successfully reintegrated. In order to prove helpful in not only the Sri Lankan context but in the larger, global level discussion of Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration programs, the conclusion offered some recommendations on how current reintegration programs can improve to empower excombatant girls.
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