BY: LISA CUMMING
There is no scenario in which you can justify the slaughter of innocent people.
Whether it is under the blanket of religion, or within a re-emerging trend – feminism.
In light of the recent attacks in Nigeria and Paris, where the bombers were female, there has been a trend threatening to grow of women being directly involved in acts of terrorism. This recent focus is not to detract from the fact that women have always been a part of organized terrorism, but more recently that there has been an influx of women not just in supporting and administrative roles.
In light of the recent attacks in Nigeria and Paris, where the bombers were female, there has been a trend threatening to grow of women being directly involved in acts of terrorism.
Historically there have been women who have played prominent roles in the Russian Narodnaya Volya in the 19th century, the Irish Republican Army, the Baader-Meinhof organization in Germany, the Italian Red Brigades, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In saying this, the primary contribution expected from women has been to give birth to the fighters, and raise them in extremist environments. This rings true to most terrorist groups, no matter where their geographic location.
In 1985, the world saw the first-ever female suicide bomber in Sana’a Mehaydali. She was sent by the Syrian Socialist National Party to blow herself up near an Israeli convoy in Lebanon. Of the 12 suicide attacks conducted by SSNP, women actively took part in six, and between 1985 and 2006, there has been an excess of 220 women involved in such attacks.
When a woman carries out these attacks, generally, less suspicion is raised. There are reports of women layering themselves in such a way as to conceal the bomb to look like a baby bump.
The increase of female suicide bombers is a response to the need for stealthier weapons. “Female suicide bombers have an added media aspect which encourages terrorists to capitalize on the sensationalism,” writes Debra D. Zedalis in her report: Female Suicide Bombers. “Organizations which routinely use suicide bombers have utilized the notion of martyrdom and self-sacrifice as a means of last resort against their conventionally more powerful enemies.”
The increase of female suicide bombers is a response to the need for stealthier weapons. There are reports of women layering themselves in such a way as to conceal the bomb to look like a baby bump.
Unfortunately, some have wrongly chosen to interpret this insurgence of female terrorists as a “good” thing for the women’s rights movement. These people have blindly accepted murder as an act of emancipation. As Elaine Donnelly wrote in her piece: The Suicide Sisterhood, “Terrorism is not a step forward for women but a step backward for humanity.”
This misinterpretation that is coming from a small group of people does not give anyone the right to denounce feminism, and all that the movement has done.
“Female suicide bombers appear to be one of the most extreme forms of exploitation of women, who become objectified, even if they think that their choice is subjective. It is by accepting their mission or volunteering for suicide bombings that they acquire the status of an object. When they agree to go on the missions, they become weapons in the hands of the men of the terrorist organizations.”
The terrorist organization Boko Haram, which has pledged allegiance to ISIS, is the biggest user of female bombers.
“Terrorism is not a step forward for women but a step backward for humanity.”
The women who actively chose to become suicide bombers do not belong in the same category as the women and girls who are forced into it. “For me, I think the biggest surprise was really how inadequate their level and ability to think and reason logically was,” said Dr Fatima Akilu, the head of the Nigerian government’s Countering Violent Extremism Programme. “For a lot of them, they were confronted with this linear narrative from a very charismatic preacher and they didn’t have skills to really challenge that narrative even when parts of it really didn’t make too much sense.”
Both groups may have undergone a form of brainwashing and coercion, but media outlets that chose to not make the distinction are allowing a sort of validity to senseless killings.
“The campaign (of suicide bombing) has been designed to obscure the wickedness of ethnic mass murder by seeking to place the killer on the same moral plane as his targets – both are seen to be victims.”
The act of terrorism is not a friend of feminism, or anyone. Terrorism, referred to as a “synthesis of war and theatre,” uses female suicide bombers in a tactical way that builds on the typical racist and sexist profiling of what a “terrorist” looks like.