The Transition to Civilian Life of Teenage Girls and Young Women Ex-Combatants: A Case Study from Batticaloa
by Sonny Inbaraj Krishnan. Research Paper No: 1. Colombo, ICES, 2012. 20p.
This paper explores the complex and multifarious issues associated with the transition to civilian life for female ex-Tamil tiger combatants in Batticaloa, following the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka in May 2009. This study focuses on the reintegration processes of both ex-combatants who have been rehabilitated and released by the GoSL and the former girl child soldiers who self-demobilized in 2004. The author argues that disabled ex-combatants, more so female disabled ex-combatants, face serious reintegration obstacles in the absence of specific medical and psychosocial care in communities. Though Sri Lanka’s National Action Plan for the Re-Integration of Ex-Combatants does include disabled fighters, an array of ministries and bureaucratic entities acting independently of each other have led to a fragmentation of policy. In the absence of social welfare services, female networks and female headed households bear the main burden of care for traumatized former girl child soldiers and injured female ex-combatants. The author also highlights the important role that access to organized schooling can have in assisting former girl child soldiers to overcome their experiences and establish an identity separate from that of a combatant. Given the lack of proper state-funded assistance, the author argues that these mechanisms that heal, nurture and protect all groups of women ex-combatants must be recognized, valued and supported.