Girl Soldiers of South Sudan and the Trauma of Sexual Violence(The Guardian, Aug.20,2019)

A reintegration program in South Sudan has helped some 360 girls who were formerly enslaved as child soldiers. But the trauma of sexual violence continues to be a struggle. Patricia  and her sister were kidnapped from their home in 2015 by rebel forces. She was taken to become a child soldier, primarily carrying food and cooking. She was also forced to have sex with soldiers.“When we reached the military base, I was assigned to a certain soldier as his wife. He was older [about 40]. But I refused and I was beaten,” said Patricia.“I resisted for two weeks. But one night this man came and grabbed me. I tried to fight and wrestle with him. But he was strong and overpowered me. I tried making noise and alarm, but nobody came.”On 7 February 2018,  when she went home, she was four months pregnant.As a child soldier, Patricia was entitled to receive support from UN and child protection agencies.But almost 18 months on, she’s still struggling to come to terms with the trauma of what happened to her, and finding it hard to earn money to support herself and her one-year-old son.”Patricia has received support through the National Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reintegration Commission,partner with Unicef and the UN mission in South Sudan. She has been assigned a social worker to receive psycological help.Still, there can be a stigma around receiving help.As Jean Lieby, chief of child protection for Unicef in South Sudan, noted “It is recognised as a problem, in certain areas, to identify girls leaving the armed forces, because they do not want the stigma of being identified.Patricia says she has struggled to take care of her baby as her parents are poor and she has lost most of her former friends. Before I was kidnapped I had friends. But when I returned from captivity nobody wanted to be close to me.”