Thursday, April 30, 2009

Female Suicide Bombers


Now don't be too shocked, but there is, actually, more going on in the world than Swine Flu (are we still allowed to call it that?) and the economic crisis. I know, shocking. And as I have been trying to search for some of this "other" news, I came across a series of interesting articles that led to more articles and soon I was reading about a topic I had never really thought of at length before: female suicide bombers.


I think that most Westerners have this image in their head of a terrorist. Something like bin Laden, hiding in a dirt hole, with machine guns everywhere and possibly fangs. Chances are, you are thinking of an extremist male. However, Lindsey O'Rourke of the University of Chicago has extensively researched the topic and discovered that, among groups that permit female suicide bombers, that females make up 15% of attackers. That is WAY higher a percentage than I expected. I figured maybe there had been just a couple ever, until I read that last week alone there were 2 female suicide bombers in Iraq. And that's just Iraq. Women pose a special threat since, as second class citizens, they are under much less suspicion and they often wear flowing robes that could allow for weapons to be easily concealed.


O'Rourke also said that women "were responsible for an overwhelming 65 percent of assassinations; one in every five women who committed a suicide attack did so with the purpose of assassinating a specific individual, compared with one in every 25 for the male attackers." These women mean business. They aren't just blowing themselves up and destroying some property and civilians along the way; they have a target, they are assassinating with a vengeful purpose.


One point to note is that most of the female attackers that get publicity are those who were later found to be mentally disabled. And, true, that does happen and it is horrendous that an organization would be evil enough to be fine with saying, "Sure, let's talk this disabled woman into killing herself to further our cause. She's worthless anyway and we're probably doing her a favor." Like I said, evil. And it does happen, but these cases are the extreme minority and most female suicide bombers are completely aware of what they are doing and, interestingly enough, most of them are not doing it for religious reasons, but for secular reasons (like showing their opposition of foreign military occupation), and many of them are not even Muslim, but include Hindus and Christians. Talk about blowing your stereotypes out of the water.


Honestly, there are such better ways to get your point across successfully. If someone is trying to blow me and my home up because they oppose my policies, I can tell you that I'm not about to go sit down at some peaceful talks with their cronies- not a chance. This isn't really getting them anywhere, in my opinion. But I did think it was thought-provoking to consider the women who are involved in terrorism. This is obviously something that is beginning to stew, not in just extremist Muslim men, but is a practice that is beginning to pervade the whole culture of the Middle East with little signs of slowdown. I daresay that there is little hope that the next generation will not have been so exposed to suicide bombings as a common occurrence that they will not be perpetuated as an acceptable means of displaying rebellion. I am starting to fear what will happen as the US troops pull out since, although it appears to be what needs to happen for the safety of our soldiers, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, an Iraqi Extremist, recently ridiculed President Obama and called his plan to withdraw American forces by 2011 an “implied avowal of defeat.” Likewise, an Iraqi civilian lamented, “America was not able to finish them off. How can our forces do it?” Despair seems to drip from his words and I hope that Iraqi forces really will be as self-sustaining as we are laboring to make them.

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