During the civil war which particularly affected the north of Sri Lanka, thousands of Tamil children (generally between 13 and 18 years old) were recruited by force or ‘’Voluntarily’’ to fight aside the Tamil Tigers. They all lived through traumatising experiences: bombings, shootings, explosions, torture, brutalisation, executions, rape and anti-personnel mines.
During the war, families were deprived of any form of income, access to education or to healthcare as well as food, which encouraged children to join the LTTE. Some children were even happy to be able defend the civil rights of their community, leaving their caste at the same time and in the case of women and young girls their ‘’inferior’’ condition as women.
In contrast, since the beginning of the war, children have been recruited by force to carry out small ad hoc tasks. Near the end of the war, seeing their defeat approach and the number of combatants decrease, the organisation was obliged to reform their ranks with children and adolescents. The only way to avoid forced enrolment for young girls: Arranged marriage, as married women are meant to look after their homes.
After 2009, while for the rest of the country the war was nothing but a bad memory, in the north the stigma that was left by it was still present. Especially for women: ex-combatants or widows, between 45,000 and 90,000 (the numbers differ significantly) became completely invisible. They face physical suffering (wounded by shells, amputation, etc.) psychological issues (linked to war suffering and the loss of loved ones) and social exclusion. For a long time, they feared being killed or tortured for having belonged to a rebel group. Today, they must work to provide for their family’s needs. However, working marginalises them, as they were used to domestic duties. Not only do they have to face government forces but also Tamil Conservatism.