As part of the International Network for Interdisciplinary Research on Children Born of War (INIRC) we aim to discover and better understand the implications and consequence for people of being children born of war.
A child born of war may be defined as ‘a child that has one parent that was part of an army or peace keeping force and the other parent a local citizen’.
Knowledge available so far indicates that the consequences for many of the children have been devastating, independent of whether the relationship between mother and father was of a loving or exploitative nature. The children are born with a stigma of belonging to the enemy and are often treated as such, both at the social and political level. Some have been abandoned, abused, mobbed, excluded from family and community and even harassed by the state.
Little evidence exists on this topic, as the mothers are often too bitter or traumatized to talk about their experiences. The children themselves may have no knowledge about their biological origin or they know, feel and hear about their origin from relatives or community members, but are too afraid to address the issue – from an early age they learn that this topic is a taboo.
Nevertheless, some information exists from different conflicts and countries such as children fathered by German soldiers and local women in occupied countries during World War II, children fathered by US soldiers and Vietnamese women during the Vietnam war, and children born of rape as a military strategy of ethnic cleansing during the civil war in former Yugoslavia.
Terminology used to describe children fathered by enemy soldiers varies between conflict and country. In 2006 a group of researcher working on the topic decided to apply the term ‘children born of war’ (Mochmann 2006). It was agreed that the term “children born of war” was considered the most appropriate as it is objective and includes all children who have one parent who is part of an army or peace keeping force and the other parent a local citizen independent of time and geographical context, type of conflict and origin of conception.
This term ‘Children born of war’ therefore covers all Categories of children born of war as suggested by Mochmann 2007 and 2009 including; children of soldiers from enemy soldiers and occupation forces, children of child soldiers and children of peacekeeping forces.