Female combatants in Africa: A case study of the Niger delta crisis
Conflict in Africa has become a recurring decimal over time and ranges from wars of liberation against colonial masters to struggles against oppressive governments. There have also been conflicts arising from political exclusion, economic marginalization and social oppression. It has been a common feature for women to be seen as the victims of conflicts and requiring special legislation to protect them during conflicts. In this research work, I have set out to establish that women take part in combat during conflicts just like their male counterparts. They are active but are relegated to the background at the end of hostilities and during demobilization exercise and this is the core of this work. The female combatants have been noted to be physically strong and aptly buttress the Amaizon feminism, which is the theoretical framework used for this research work. This research was conducted through personal interviews, use of books, journals and online sources. It is my projection that if the ex – female combatants are given the same recognition they enjoy during combats, they will not feel bitter and resort to crime. It is also important to state that if they are given the necessary training to help them resettle after conflicts, less number of them will be involved in crimes and they will play significant roles in post conflict resolutions. This is because of their presence at the grassroots. The objectives of the study cover the extent of involvement of female combatants in conflicts in Africa, reasons for the participation of female combatants in the Niger Delta conflict, recruitment of the combatants and the tasks assigned to them and their roles and status in peace in Africa In various conflicts in Africa and with particular reference to the Niger Delta crisis in Nigeria, it has come to the fore that female combatants play significant roles during conflicts. They are foot soldiers, commanders and further serve as wives and mistresses of the male commanders and some of the female combatants are used as sex slaves during combat. The recruitment of the female combatants has been on the increase in recent years. The recruitment pattern is usually thorough conscriptions and by voluntary enlistment. Reasons that account for conscription include to beef up the ranks and to have female combatants that can play roles noted above. Some of the female combatants voluntary enlist as a platform to redress male domination within their communities; other reasons include poverty, unemployment but to mention a few. At the end of the research, the findings include the fact that, female combatants are recruited by conscription and through voluntary means. It was also established that female combatants were assigned tasks in all areas where their male counterparts operated. They are used as foot soldiers, logistics commanders and sadly as sex slaves in rebel camps. It was established that despite their prowess in battles, female combatants are not given due recognition during demobilization exercises. They are easily told to go back home and resume their domestic chores while their male counterparts are given training to help them resettle into normal life. The effects of this neglect have been identified to include, rising numbers of ex- female combatants who find it difficult to settle into normal life. They find it hard to get married and handle domestic chores. Many ex – female combatants are involved in prostitution, kidnapping and other sundry crimes. It was also established that ex- female combatants are a ready army of recruits in a global world where terrorism is becoming wide spread. The way forward to addressing the problems of the female combatants in Africa include the implementation of UNSC Resolutions 1325 and 1385. There is also the need to criminalize the stigmatization of ex-female combatants. The very key ideas of properly demobilizing female combatants to enable them reintegrate with their families and to handle sensitive issues in post conflict resolutions cannot be over emphasized.