Female suicide bombers: dying for equality?

  • Aristotle argued over 2000 years ago that it was legitimate to resist tyranny, yet he provided no arguments as to which means were legitimate. Until today, although we still cannot agree in defining legally what activity can be characterized as “terrorism,” we can all repeat the famous words, “I can’t define it but I know when I see it.” Most important, we all feel the need to explain it and finally combat it. Yet human bombs, this fashionable weapon of today’s terror campaigns, pose an extra difficulty, as they are perceived by many as most difficult to prevent and repel: how can someone actually stop and deter a person who is not afraid of giving up life? The appearance of women in this kind of murder activity has complicated the question, as their gender makes it quite difficult to detect let alone understand them, due to existing images and perceptions about the female role in society and crime. Usually security services, policymakers, and analysts have little conceptual understanding of how the factors contributing to terrorism, as well as the various social parameters, actually affect the individual terrorist. Instead they seem to believe strongly that hard-line policies will prevent terrorism because terrorists want to avoid high costs. The prescriptions dictated by this approach are quite attractive, because they are conventional, compatible with the existing political doctrine, and relatively easy to implement. Few efforts have been made thus far to devise an analytical framework for understanding the processes and factors that underlie the development of the suicide bomber and the execution of suicide bombing attacks, and even fewer about the female actors. Yet to date the approach has contributed little in combating suicide terrorism, where the perpetrators clearly are oblivious to the physical cost of their actions. If multiple factors are likely to underlie any one observation, this undoubtedly applies to suicide terrorism, which is a complex phenomenon not caused by one single factor and not to be adequately explained by one overarching motivation. In order to understand it there is a need to appreciate the ethnic, religious, political, social, and economic context in which it takes place. If perceived as a crime, then any factor that affects or concerns the perpetrator also has to be analyzed in order to break down the pattern of deviance and deter it adequately. Gender is one of these crucial factors, so the female participation in suicide terrorism merits special research, since the cultural, social, and religious standards in the terrorism arenas put women in a very different position than that of men. They are “special” deviants, not because the operational method of their self-immolation differs from that of men, but because their womanhood plays a key role in the way the whole social environment influences them. It is the specific province of criminology, which involves studying the manifestations of crime and social control in relation to law as well as the conditions, processes, and implications at the societal level, that Criminological Perspectives on Female Suicide Terrorism contributes to identifying and analyzing female suicide attacks. Thus, criminology can offer valuable explanations to the formidable goals of counterterrorism, which in turn will be better able to try to combat or modify the special characteristics of this form of female criminal behavior.

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Document Type:Book
Date of Publication (online):2009/05/11
Year of first Publication:2006
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Creating Corporation:The Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies (JCSS), Tel-Aviv
Release Date:2009/05/11
Tag:Islamic feminism; Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Russian-Chechen Conflict; Sri Lankan-Tamil Conflict
Source:Memorandum // Tel Aviv Univ., Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies ; 84. - http://www.e-prism.org/aboutprism.html
Contributor:Schweitzer, Yoram
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 32 Politikwissenschaft / 320 Politikwissenschaft
Sammlungen:JudaicaDoc | Jüdische Studien und Israel-Studien / Jüdische Studien - Literatur
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht