A Duty to Protect / Un Devoir de Protection / On the Frontlines / Soldats MalgrÃ© Eux| 14mins
Director: AJEDIKA, PES, WITNESS | Producer: AJEDIKA, PES, WITNESS
Focus Years: 2004 | Country: United States
In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where civil war has taken more than five million lives, children as young as six are routinely recruited by militias and taught to kill. It is estimated that children, most between 8 and 16 years old, make up 60% of combatants in the region.
"A Duty to Protect" tells the story of Mafille and January, two girls who were recruited into the military at 13 and 10 years of age respectively. Mafille is a demobilized soldier whose experiences of violence and sexual exploitation caused her deep emotional scars. January is a girl soldier whose bravado veils her suffering, and whose character and perceptions personify the complexity of the conflict and the views of the local population. This unique video also looks at the effects of the recruitment and use of child soldiers on their families and the broader community, concluding that the people of eastern DRC wish for peace and justice in their region.
On the Frontlines was created by Ajedi-ka and WITNESS to advocate for the cessation of voluntary recruitment of child soldiers in eastern DRC. The video features powerful footage, shot between 2003 and 2004, of the military training of children in several militia camps in South Kivu as well as compelling testimony from demobilized child soldiers recounting the horrifying memories of life as soldiers. More than 10 militia groups operate in the region; every one of them has been reported to be using children as soldiers. Over 35% of these children are recruited voluntarily, led by a sense of patriotism or by ideas of prosperity. Parents and the community at large are often involved in this voluntary recruitment of children. On the Frontlines has been screened throughout communities in eastern DRC in an attempt to cease the voluntary recruitment of children from these communities.
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