Evolving Role of Women in Terror Groups: Progression or Regression?
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AbstractHistorically, women have been victims to a much greater degree than perpetrators of violence. However, the 1970s witnessed the emergence of women as important protagonists in the conflicts across the world. Recent years have witnessed suicide attacks perpetrated by women suicide bombers. This growing trend of women bombers has the general public and counterterrorism specialists concerned because of its implication that women will be key players in future terrorist attacks. Women’s role in terrorist organisations have also transformed since 1970s.Women across the ideological spectrum played different roles at different times. The use of women for “soft tasks” like logistics and recruitment gradually started to change in the mid-1980s when they started playing a much more visible frontline role. A woman taking up a suicide bombing role diverges significantly and is far more dangerous than their traditional activity of playing logisticians, recruiters or even a frontline role. This paper scrutinizes this change. There are multi causal issues which drive women to join terrorism and more so as suicide bombers. Psychological, economic, political, religious and sociological factors can act as contributors to understanding the causes that drive women towards terrorism. This paper attempts to highlight the role played by women in various terrorist organisations around the world. It also tries to bring out the factors which influence women to participate in terrorist acts. It aims to bring out the above facts by analysing various groups which have women cadre. Previous studies in the same realm have focused on a particular group or a conflict whereas this paper attempts to examine female participation across multiple conflicts in different groups driven by different ideology, which provides a clear insight into the multi causal factors which are responsible for this trend. The methodology followed is a descriptive one wherein the analysis is conducted on information derived from published secondary data.