On his third day in the camp
a new “recruit” arrived
Raheem watched him being pulled from the truck
and presented to the big man
he could not hear what was being said
but he saw the older boys arriving
the newcomer was unconscious
Raheem had avoided that beating
he, had only been
they would attack the enemy
Raheem had decided
he would be fearless
he would charge the enemy
at the age of fourteen years and three week
he had come to understand
death in combat
was his only chance of escape
There are an estimated 250,000 boy soldiers in the world today serving in countries including, but not limited to Afghanistan, Burma, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Iraq, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Thailand and Yemen. As the fighting around Mosul intensifies growing numbers of boy soldiers are being thrown into the front line with a very short life expectancy. Recent reports claim at least 300 ISIS boy soldiers have been killed.
Additionally thousands of girls have been inducted or abducted by military or paramilitary forces. These girls typically are not involved in combat but are utilised as cooks, messengers, spies or companions to fighters. The fact these girls are not sent into combat means they are best defined as slaves. These children, both boys and girls have their family life and education interrupted and face physical, psychological and sexual abuse. They all need rescued.
However if you put “boy soldiers” into a search engine you will find the results lead you to “child soldiers” and organisations that work to prevent children being recruited by army’s or militia. It appears that groups such as Child Soldiers International or War Child have conflated the Boy Soldiers and the Girl Slaves. When it comes to there programs to get “Child Soldiers” out of conflict and back into school, they have rediscovered their ability to to make a distinction. The boys, who have been more severely affected by their exposure to combat, are disbarred due to their gender. My conclusion is that those organisations are not interested in helping child soldiers, but girls, and the world is looking the other way. Male disposability it seems, begins in childhood.