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Why Women Join Terrorist Groups 18
Why Women Join Terrorist Groups
Why Women Join Terrorist Groups
Terrorism can generally be referred to as the act of using intentional as well as all-inclusive violence for with the purpose of gaining politically, religiously or in other cases ideologically. Terrorism as a crime has been globally described as violent and additionally as a fourth-generation warfare (Bruce, 2013). Acts of terrorism are as well considered as against humanity and have so far been proven to be one of the cruelest acts of violence in the world. In many of its events, terrorism does not exclude any individuals but attacks all the people who are present at the time it is unleashed. In cases where some individuals are spared at an unleashing of terrorism, they have been proven to belong to the same side as the terrorists, politically, religiously or under any other basis they attack.
Although terrorism can be traced back to times before the 1st century when the Sicarii Zealots assassinated the Roman rule collaborators, the highest concern in the field is on the modern terrorism. Terrorism was first used during the Reign of Terror in the French Revolution. During reign, Jacobins used violence in order to force the state to obey as well as intimidate the enemies of the regime (Amy Zalman, 2016). During this time, terrorism adopted the relation to state violence was used up to around mid-19th century when some non-governmental groups began to practice acts that were associated with terrorism. Some of these acts are what started to characterize the modern day terrorism. Modern day terrorism has given the field terrorism a number of different definitions, techniques as well as the people involved in terrorism. The involvement of women in terrorism is, for instance, one of the main differences that the modern day terrorism has made in the field.
Women involvement in terrorism brings up a number of questions from all over the world. Involving women in acts of terror can be said to have been witnessed a number of times in the 19th century, but they have become more common in the 20th and 21st century. A bigger number of these cases of women engaging in terror activities lies in the 21st century. Following these incidences, therefore, this paper tries to look into the issue of the female gender involvement in terrorism. In the effort of studying the topic, the paper indulges in thorough research of understanding the issue of terrorism. Some aspects include researching the concept and history of terrorism among others to give a clear understanding of the issue. This type of understanding will then be used to evaluate the possible reasons why women would be interested in engaging or to be part of terrorist activities. It will further engage in establishing the plight of the women terrorist, the circumstances or aims that land them to terrorism and how their lives change after becoming terrorists. The main aim of the paper is however to establish the different reasons and circumstances that could lead to having women become part of terrorist groups.
The concept and History of Terrorism
Although terrorism is viewed as a common enemy of any society in the world, each society or group have their own way of defining terrorism. There does therefore not exist a single confirmed definition for terrorism as each tends to define terrorism based on their own view, experiences or interests. At times terrorism is defined as the act of violence that is directed at civilians or people who are not in the combat (Bruce, 2013). Using this definition, however, brings about some confusion as for how to classify a number of attacks. The 9/11 attacks can easily be described as terrorism under this definition, but a question arises about the Pentagon attacks that were directed towards military personnel. Was it not terrorism because it was directed towards combatants? The answer to the question is definitely no, which further complicates the situation of terrorism.
In other cases, terrorism can be defined as the unlawful exploitation of non-governmental power against citizens of a given nation with the aim of intimidating or forcing their government to react on a specific interest. In defining terrorism in this way, a question is raised on those interests that are sought after by government authorities. The question raised could be ‘does violence that is practiced on the interest of the government, not terrorism’. It is obvious that even government driven violence is terrorism and a perfect definition is, therefore, necessary for terrorism.
In giving terrorism a more genuine definition, therefore, it is clear that it should take care of all the bias that has since existed in its definition. Some of these biases exist in the aspects of target groups, commanding groups of terrorism among others. In attaining neutrality, therefore, terrorism can be defined as the use of violence with the purpose of achieving a specific personal interest or with the aim of commanding support (Aven and Guikema, 2015). With this definition, the bias is broken and any act of violence can be violence and any target population can be termed to face terror attacks. Additional neutrality to the event of terrorism is that it does not take into any consideration the rules regarding war. In a genuine war, actions are limited in terms of weapons that can be used to attack as well as the individuals who the armed people can attack(Aven and Guikema, 2015). Terrorism does however not follow these rules into consideration and attacks everyone at the reach of their terror reign.
Terrorism can be traced to the AD centuries one of which involved the assassination of the roman rule collaborators down to the Hashhashin in the 11th – 13th centuries assassinating Abbasid and Seljuk, to the French revolution during its reign of terror assassinating the embracers of Roman rule (Amy Zalman, 2016). The list trickles down to the period of the 20th and 21st century where incidences of terrorism are uncountable and terror groups are uncountable as well. Having such a rise of the vice of terrorism also has its own effects on the societies that are near, or that are made up of terrorist groups.
Women and Terrorism
In the current societies, the war of gender equality has been one of the fiercest with all women fighting for a place in the societies. In the wake of this war, each woman always has their own and different aim of fighting for gender equality. As a result of this urge to own a place in the society, women have in the modern societies resolved to do things that men were previously considered as the only people who can do them(Cragin and Daly, 2016). Engagement in terrorism is one of the contemporary society activities that women have been recorded to engage in. Involvement of women in terrorism is not a new term to many people who have been in countries which are faced by terrorism and also to people who keep a track of the current issues in the world. Throughout the history of terrorism, women have been involved in terrorism in a way. Being involved in terrorism, women have been part of political violence, all cases of rebellion in the society, as well as insurgency.
In this part, the paper will look at the available statistics and information of women who have been involved in terrorism activities. It will additionally look at the expected change in the trend of women who are involved in terrorism. Besides the history of women involvement in terror groups, this part will additionally look at the possible reasons as to why women choose or are found in terrorist groups. Researching this part of the paper gives the different ways in which women find themselves trapped in the world of terrorism. It will also assist to establish if women get into terrorist groups willingly or unwillingly. This study also gives an insight of the possible ways in which women involvement in terrorism can be reduced. It will as well be used establish some ways in which women involvement in terrorism can be exploited by nations to fight terrorism.
History of Women Involvement in Terrorism
Initially, the role of women in the society whether in violence or peaceful was simply to give birth to children who were looked upon to become the future leaders, defenders, and fighters for their societies. Women as mothers were required to raise their children as brave soldiers and ideologically steadfast. In the modern society, however, women involvement in terrorist activities has greatly widened (Eager, 2016). Women are being involved in political, religious as well as conceptual debates all over the world. Involvement in these elements of the society does not exclude them in the consequences that come along with them. Women in present day society are being involved in all the activities that involve the elements of society in both good and bad ways. In the bad ways, for instance, women have chosen to engage in fights regarding all these elements seeking to keep their place or that of their society (Chowdhury, Barakat and Shetret, 2013). A woman participating in terrorism has mainly emerged in the societies as they are caught in the middle of their activities and have to engage in what follows their present situations. Women, therefore, play a more outlying role in terrorism by being both in the fights or by supporting the terrorists. They have further joined terrorist groups and are used to unleash terror attacks.
Involvement of women in terrorism can be for instance recorded in the Narodnaya Volya women whose willingness to die for the cause exceeded that of their male counterparts. These women put themselves in anti-colonial as well as revolutionary struggles in the Third World for very many years. In the year 1878, Narodnaya Volya’s Vera Zasulich is recorded as the ever first woman to be tried for accusations related to terrorism in Tsarist Russia. Vera alongside Masha Kolenkina, another conspirator in Narodnaya Volya shot Theodore Trepov who was then St. Petersburg’s governor general. Governor Trepov was, however, able to survive the assassination and had Vera arrested and tried for the attempt. She had made the attempt with a revolver that she had hidden under a shawl. She was bold enough to stand up for herself and proudly shout that she was a terrorist and not a murderer. There were as well other women in the group of Narodnaya Volya and a third of the group’s leadership was revealed to be composed of women. Vera was celebrated as a martyr for those oppressed in the society for attempting to assassinate the governor.
As from the 1960s, women who were witnessed to engage in terror groups were listed to involve all types including the Middle East’s nationalist movements and Marxist organization of Europe. All parts of the world started having female militants like the Black panthers and Baader Meinhof of Germany, the Red Brigaders of Italy, and Red Army of Japanese among others. Organizations that involved themselves in fighting for the rights of women and their equality saw women rise through and to power and they apparently became leaders of these terrorist groups (Barakat and Fink, 2013). These actions were a clear sign that women had started to fight, defend and at other times grab their position in the society.
In the years between the 1960s and 70s, women were seen playing a great role in European groups. In the Baader-Meinhof of Germany, Ulrike Meinhoff was witnessed to be the founder. Meinoff was a woman but she managed to come up with a terror group that had her name as an ideological sign. An analysis done by Russel and Miller’s study of landmark went ahead to reveal that approximately 350 terror attacks between the years 1966 and 1976 were conducted by women from the groups of Red Army Faction and the Brigate Rosse. In the groups, however, women were revealed as underrepresented as the high percentages consisted of men and women were as well revealed to be responsible for a number of secondary roles in the groups.
Other women involved in terrorism groups include Zohra Drif who was cited by Vera Zasulich as her role model. Zohra Drif was a woman from Algeria and who was a suicide bomber during its independence from France in the 1950s. In Russia as well, women played a big part in the Russia’s revolutionary movement during the 19th century (Cragin and Daly, 2016). These women involvement in terrorism also featured as a rise of modern terrorism. In more recent times, women have continued to be implicated as terrorists like in the provisional IRA in Northern Ireland. Additionally, women have been witnessed to highly have the ranks of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers. An estimated provided that women make approximately a third of the total fighters and additionally make approximately a third of the suicide bombers.
In modern terrorism, women have been witnessed acting as leftists and nationalists in a number of countries across the world continents such as Japan, Turkey, Italy, Germany, and the United States among others. Right wing recruiting of women is often witnessed in Europe, the United States, etc. including the Ku Klux Klan. Ku Klux Klan chose to recruit women so that they could assist the men counterparts by reinforcing their militancy and were as well used to keep men in the group. From the early 1990s, women were witnessed to have increased their count in the Islamist and Jihadi groups of terrorism in the world. They have additionally been witnessed to be highly involved in political violence and terrorist organizations but were revealed to be limited by the low willingness of the world to look at their involvement.
An approximate of 257 suicide attacks during the period between 1985 and 2010 was revealed to have been conducted by women and which totals to a quarter of the number of suicide bombings that occurred during the period. Since the year 2002, the number of terror operatives who are women has been approximated to be 50% of the total operatives. Women have been revealed to kill hundreds of people, including men, fellow women, and children. Those who survived their attacks are revealed to have undergone crippling, others have gone blind, and many other effects from these attacks. Other women terrorists have tried but failed in their missions and keep training hoping to succeed in their future missions.
Approximate numbers of women who engage in terrorism are revealed as having the possibility to increase over the next years. This increase is made possible by the fact that the numbers have been increasing for the past five years. Some of the factors that are responsible for this increase include the rise of the activity of terror groups such as the Taliban, the Boko Haram, the Al Shabaab and the continued operation of the Al Qaeda and ISIS among other major terrorist groups in the world who have been recruiting women terrorists in large numbers. These groups made a realization that there were things that women could do for them and those men could not do which led to the massive recruitment of women.
Women are mostly described as unseen terrorists as they are always the least suspected to be able to perform acts of terrorism. Due to this assumption that women are harmless, women can very easily move closer to terrorism targets with least suspicion and without being noticed. Currently, women are revealed to represent more than 15% of bomb attacks in the period between 1985 and 2006. In terror struck places such as Chechnya and Sri Lanka, women are as well estimated to make more that 30 percent of the total members of the fighting forces. Al-Aqsa martyrs’ brigade was revealed to have at least 300 women who are described as some of the highly trained and skilled suicide bombers available for the group.
Reasons to Women Involvement in Terrorism
There are a number of reasons why women would develop the desire for inclusion, would want to be or would be needed to become part and parcel of terrorist groups. From the world’s perspective, it is hard to believe that any woman would want to become part of a terrorist group. On the other hand, it is equally unbelievable that any terrorist group would need the participation of a woman to enable its activities (Eager, 2016). It is obvious that any society in the world takes women for a weak and minor species that is not able to execute any important activities. In the modern world, however, the way women perceive themselves, the things they want to achieve and the extents they are willing to go in order to achieve them is both interesting and alarming at the same time. Women impress the world by being aggressive and acquiring themselves a place in the society and being above me. However, some women get too desperate in the process and engage in extreme activities to achieve these goals. It is this aggressiveness that women have developed all over the world that attracts attention from terror groups which seek to exploit their skills and aggressiveness (Herschinger, 2014). Below are some of the reasons that contribute to increasing numbers of women in terrorist groups.
The Desire to be Included
Some women choose to engage in terrorism so that they can be a part of the groups. In many times, the women in some societies are marginalized to extents that they are not viewed or treated as people who have their rights. Under such treatment, women tend to feel that they do not have a place to belong and they, therefore, look for ways to which they can belong to a group where they feel included (Huckerby, 2015). In many times, women who live in nations with terror groups then chose to become part of then just to be included somewhere they are recognizable and viewed as important people.
Women were therefore revealed to seek inclusion in terror groups. In their own world or societies, women may be viewed as beautiful, have loving families but do not have anyone who listens to what they have to say which makes them feel unaccepted and ignored. When one feels ignored in their societies, they develop a wish to be far from the society, from afamily and away from the world that they live in. Following this urge, many women choose the terrorist groups as their potential solution to the feelings of neglect that they have (Huckerby, 2015). In these groups, they hope to find leaders who need and depend on them to complete their missions, to make their points and many other functions they may want the group members to perform.
To Overcome Radicalization in the Society
In a notable number of societies, there exist very high levels of the radicalization of the female gender (Kendall, 2015). Radicalization practices have the effects of making one feel undermined in their societies, homes or at their schools. When women are subjected to radicalization in their societies, they tend to resolve to look for ways in which they can become part of a group that does not expose them to such discrimination. If one lives in a country that has rampant levels of terrorism, they will definitely be attracted to become part of them so that they may be able to exercise some power over themselves, some freedom and many others.
In joining terrorist groups, some women hope to find an environment that allows them to make points of their life, be involved in decision making among other activities that surround them at the terrorist groups. Having to exercise control over their lives, many women hope to be able to feel more worth, than when they have to sit back and watch as all decisions are made for them. Women can, therefore, be said to join terrorist groups in the search for a place where they can be allowed to live like everyone else around them. They hope to find the freedom to express them as well as to make decisions for their own lives not under command or supervision.
Passionate Political Commitment
In nations that have political unrest, there are always events of disagreeing among or between these political groups. In the event of these political disagreements, the citizens too tend get into the disagreement amongst themselves on the basis of which political group one belongs to. Disagreements between the political powers of a given country then turn into a political war, where citizens wage war against each other as they try to defend their political interest. In this case, many people have least things they can do for the political group of their liking when they are normal civilians. It is the push to acquire the ability to defend one’s political interest that gets some women to join terrorist groups (Lay, 2015). In a general understanding, these women believe that becoming part of a terrorist group will give them the materials they require such as weapons and the skills they require to fight or to win the war against other political interests.
To Meaningless Existences a Purpose
In many terrorist groups, recruitment skills that are highly persuading are commonly used by the recruiting agents. When looking to recruit a person, these agents make sure that they show the person how much he/she can do for the society. In many cases actually, the recruits present the terrorist groups as the vigilantes in the terrorist situation who try to help the victims of war. Persuasion is used to show potential recruits how much they have the power to change the situation of the suffering war victims if they join the group. They are told of being able to give existence that is meaningless some purpose by becoming part of the group and offering their services and skills to help the people (Ortbals and Poloni-Staudinger, 2014). Women, in this case, are lured by being promised to be given the chance to show love and care to these victims, help families in different ways, and the list continues. It is at this point of feeling useful at some place, more than you are at your current place that pulls women into terrorist groups. Contrary to joining terrorist groups, they think that they get themselves in a line to help desperate victims of war. They are lured to respond to a situation involving a call to participate in building the state and construct a new nation that is peaceful pro them and for everyone else in the globe.
Financial problems and constraints can be termed as one of the most common challenges that many people in the world face. Countries that face terrorism tend to have some of the high levels of financial problems recorded. When seeking to recruit new members terrorist groups tend to lure people both men and women by promising them a fully-provided-for life that will not cost them a single cent. Following promises like these, being promised paid rent, bills and provided meals, many women find the offer quite pleasing (Lindemann, 2015). It is therefore due to this persuasion and line of promises that get many numbers of women to agree into joining terrorist groups. The aims might be different, to provide for one’s family, for oneself or what other needs they might have but at the end of the day, many of the women seek financial provision from the terrorist groups that they join.
For safety Purposes
Security is one of the most valued needs of any given human being. In their respective societies, women may feel unsafe at times because of the fact that they are an inferior species. Many women feel threatened by men in their societies and in some common cases, they happen to be oppressed or mistreated by men. When terrorist groups give women the chance to become part of them, they promise to protect them and to give them the power to protect themselves as well (Lindemann, 2015). Being offered power to protect is one of the greatest gifts that a woman cannot afford to turn down and this leads many women to join terrorist groups. It can, therefore, be said that women join terrorist groups in the search for protection as well as the power to protect and defend themselves.
Ways to Prevent Women from Joining Terrorist Groups
Governments, the society, parents and close people could use some ways to ensure that the level of female terrorists in their societies is greatly reduced. By making the efforts to decrease the level of women terrorists the rates of recruitment would at least reduce even if not end it all at once. With a combination of efforts from family, the society and mostly from the government, women who feel like joining terrorist groups could be persuaded otherwise by the mentioned groups and given alternative solutions for their complaints.
The governments could, for example, create awareness all over the world to make people aware of the involvement of women in the field of terrorism (John and LoCicero, 2015). When awareness is made concerning the issue of women terrorism, it makes the world more ready to face the situation whenever it arises. Besides providing increased readiness to deal with women joining terrorism, creating awareness of the issue makes the world aware that it exists and gives it a chance to sit back and take a clearer look at the matter, as well as weight all its possibilities. Being able to view women as possible terrorists gives the society an earlier chance to detect women terrorists which in turn works for the society by reducing the number of successful terrorist attempts by women. Placing women at the same level as men in terrorism deprives them the chances of slipping into places unnoticed as they do in the present day.
In addition to creating awareness governments and the concerned authorities should make sure that they engage their powers in making hard lives for terrorists. Enough investigation should be done to establish the sources of money for terrorist groups (Quinn, 2015). On establishing these funding sources, authorities could restrict their activities with the aim of suppressing the financial ability of the groups which in turn tends to destabilize their activities. When terrorists do not have enough financial ability to fund their activities, it becomes quite hard to finance their attacks as they cannot purchase weapons or the materials needed to make the weapons. Enough research into terrorist groups is simply the key to establishing their activities and using the findings to go against them. With little financial ability, the groups will have little recruiting power and therefore the number of women that they recruit will also reduce.
Educating the society openly on the issue of women terrorists gives the members a high level of awareness on the matter and a clarification of all the myths that exist on the same. When many women are lured into terrorist groups with promises of being given good lives and the amount of freedom, power, and money that they want, women feel that the terrorist groups are the only place where their problems can be solved with much ease. In many of the occasions, women are presented with these persuasions and they are mostly lies to just get them to join the groups. Making them aware that terrorists only intend to use them for their own interests would make women see joining terrorist groups in a way that they currently are not able to figure out on their own. Making women in the society aware of the deceit that exists in the field of terrorism, would make them be more hesitant in joining these groups which in return works for the governments to reduce their recruitment levels in terrorist gangs.
It is highly clear that terrorism has undergone a great transformation in the modern society is one of the biggest being the inclusion of women in terrorism activities. Although women have involved themselves with terrorism activities for as long as terrorism has existed, they did not participate as actively in the past centuries as in the present day. With this change, it is implied that a lot of development is taking place in the field of terrorism like in any other field of the world. Technological development, development of track covering techniques, as well as techniques to access unauthorized places has been increased by terrorists. With the challenge that terrorists pose to the nations increased, the nations should as well establish ways to use their developments to conquer terrorism as well. By upgrading the technology used to detect terrorism as well as upgrading the measures used to fight terrorism, governments would stand the highest chances of stopping terrorism.
Governments should also engage in technology advancement to fight the technology that is used by terrorists. By upgrading communication detection devices, increasing the sensing ability of bomb detecting equipment and many others would help the terrorism hit nations to be able to detect possible terrorist threats. By increasing the level of surveillance on important governmental buildings the level of access by unauthorized personnel is greatly reduced as well as the possibility of successful terrorism attempts. It is, therefore, the call of each government in the world to increase as well as upgrade the level of technology as well as increase the number of techniques available for use in fighting terrorism.
Women could, for instance, be used to participate in fighting terrorism the same way they are being used to perform terrorist attacks. In the modern day terrorism, women have been incorporated into terrorism at almost the same level as men. With this development, therefore, the government could make use of women as well to stop terrorism activities. By launching a plan to use women to fight against terrorism, the governments will be engaging in using the strongest weapon of terrorist groups against themselves. Using women …
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