Women In Terrorism

The real impact of women in terrorism is often overlooked by the public in general because of the historical and prevailing understanding that men are the primary perpetrators of terrorism and violence. While most terrorists are indeed wild-eyed male extremists, some modern day women have been noted to be perpetrators of violence or partakers of organised terrorism either voluntarily or under duress. Women who have participated in terrorism and violent extremism have indeed altered the gender roles and have transgressed the traditional gender relations they are primarily known for in the society.

Terrorism is defined as an act that uses fear-generating tactics or direct violent strategies aimed at achieving political or religious objectives lacking moral or legal limitations. The main motivation for the participation of women in terrorism includes political persuasions, coercion rooted in religious persuasions, the need to redress an alleged grievances, or ideological or national objectives or causes. In the last ten years, researchers have noted that women have participated in at least 38 non-international armed struggles and international disputes of a violent nature. The female-gender including women and girls are known to have played several roles in terrorism and violent extremism such as being suicide bombers, commanders of armed groups, and as human shields.

Examples of women in terrorism include the following:

  1. Wafa Idris: A 28-year old Wafa Idris was recorded as the first suicide bomber used by the Palestinians against the Israelis in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle in 2002. Prior to this period, the Palestinian militants employed only male suicide bombers.
  2. A young Tamil woman blew up herself in a suicide bombing that killed Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India in 1991 when she knelt at the feet of the unsuspecting Rajiv Gandhi to offer her a garland of flowers according to the BBC News.
  3. In 2006, a young Sri Lankan woman who gained entrance into a hospital under the pretext of being pregnant, detonated an explosive in a suicide bombing case and succeeded in killing and injuring several people that included the commander of the army of Sri Lanka.

At the contemporary time, reports abound of the willingness of some women in the Western world to shed blood in support of the activities of the militant Islamic Jihad and they were even willing to die as martyrs for the sake of the cause being pursued by the Islamic State movement.

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