Girl Soldier

Photographs & Multimedia by Jonathan Torgovnik

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We present a new body of work by Reportage photographer Jonathan Torgovnik about former female child soldiers in Sierra Leone.

30% of armed conflict in Africa is fought by women, and the image we always see of child soldiers is of boys. This story focuses on a few women in the village of Binkolo, about 200km from the capital Freetown, that were abducted in a very young age from their village and were forced to live with the rebels during the war in the early 90’s. Aside from them all being sexually abused, and forced to be 'bush wives' to the rebels, many of them were also forced to fight, kill, and abuse civilians, as well as forced to burn villages.

It is a portrait project, and the setting is the village where they are living in today, that was destroyed during the war, and slowly being rebuilt. Jonathan interviewed eight girls, and photographed them with the backdrop of the remains of the homes of their families that were burnt and destroyed during the war. He conducted video interviews with seven of them. Their testimonies and very powerful, and revealing. They talk about the rapes they endured - most became pregnant from those rapes and had children, they describe how they were forced to kill and maim people - and in some cases forced to kill their own family members…

After living in exile for years, these women have now been able to return to live in their communities they were abducted from, and accepted back with forgiveness for the atrocities they were forced to commit against their own people against their will.

You can view the multimedia of this project here.