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The invisible soldiers: understanding how the life experiences of girl child soldiers impacts upon their health and rehabilitation needs
  1. Amy Jane Stevens
  1. Correspondence to Dr Amy J Stevens, Department of Community Paediatrics, Wortley Beck Child Development Centre, Ring Road, Wortley, Leeds LS12 5SG, UK; amyjanestevens{at}


There are estimated 120 000 girl child soldiers worldwide. Recruitment makes girls vulnerable to the violence of war, torture, psychological trauma and sexual abuse with huge impact on their physical, mental and reproductive health. Despite this, girl soldiers often remain an invisible and marginalised group frequently neglected from disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programmes. This is not just a local issue: with former child soldiers seeking asylum as refugees there is an increasing need for health workers in the destination countries to understand their health needs in order to inform appropriate holistic service provision. This review provides an overview of how the duties and life experiences of girl soldiers, including gender-specific abuses, impacts upon their health and concludes with a summary of recommendations as to how their rehabilitation needs can be addressed.

  • Child Abuse
  • Child Psychiatry
  • Children's Rights
  • Rehabilitation

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