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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 137-144

The transition of teenage girls and young women from ex-combatants to civilian life: a case study in Sri Lanka

completed his Masters in Humanitarian Studies in the Liver pool School of Tropical Medicine, UK, in 2010. Presently he is a consultant with the World Health Organization in Cambodia and can be contacted

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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This paper describes the lives of young, female former Tamil Tiger fighters, in Batticaloa, after the civil war in Sri Lanka. It shows how the kinship and solidarity found in female networks, in a matrilineal society, has helped them survive the conflict. In Batticaloa, female-headed households bear the main burden for caring for the traumatised, and sometimes injured, returning female, former soldiers. This is done in the absence of social welfare services or specific medical or psychosocial care. Disabled female ex-combatants find it especially difficult to build a future within the community. Although Sri Lanka's National Action Plan for the Re-Integration of Ex-Combatants does include disabled fighters, in reality, disabled female ex-combatants receive hardly any support. The author concludes that money is spent on programmes that are not aimed at restoring trust between the Tamil population and the Sri Lankan state, but at reconciling ex-combatants with local communities. This is unnecessary, as communities already accept and help them, especially in the female-headed households. Households that have extra mouths to feed, because they provide care to returning female soldiers, should at least receive economic support.

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